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THE VIEW VERTICAL 

AND OTHER ESSAYS 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

AND OTHER ESSAYS 



BY 
WINIFRED KIRKLAND 

Author of " Tkf Joys of Being a Woman" tic 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

ffilic nitcrttfic prc^ri Ombvtboe 

19ZO 




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COPYRIOHT, 1990, BY WXNXPRBD KXRKLAXfD 
ALL RIGHTS RRSBRVBD 







CONTENTS 




The View Vertical 


3 


Confessions of a Scene-Maker 


IS 


With the Why-nots 


23 


Stylish Stouts 


28 


The Friends of our Friends 


33 


An Argument for Absence 


38 


On Being and Letting Alone 


43 


A Soliloquy on Sorting 


48 


Drudgery as a Fine Art 


SS 


The Perils of Telepathy 


62 


Family Phrases 


69 


Hold Izzy! 


84 


On Adopting One's Parents 


90 


In Defense of Worry 


97 


Courtesies and Calories 


103 


Back-Street Philosophy 


108 


April Burial 


116 


Grace before Books 


129 


Some Reasons for Being Rejected 


134 


The Story in the Making 


139 


The Wizard Word 


146 


The Pleasures of the Preposition 


IS3 


Faces in Fiction 


IS9 



CONTENTS 

Background Past and Present 179 

A Portrait for the Contemporary 186 

Victuals and Drink in Jane Austen 191 

The Man in the Dictionary 198 

Robinson Crusoe Re-Read 211 

Shakespeare on the Servant Problem 217 

A Boy in a Book 227 

Americanization and Walt Whitman 236 

Poetry by the Pennyworth 244 

A Little Excursion in a Hymn-Book 252 

Print and Pulpit 260 

Gift-Books and Book-Gifts 265 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

AND OTHER ESSAYS 




THE chief result of the war is that it has 
left everybody's nerves jumpy. Nations 
and individuals give too much evidence that 
they have been lying awake at night, listening 
to burglars stealthily trying the cellar win- 
dows. Our jangled nerves seem unable to re- 
spond to the simple fact that for some time 
now our jewel cases and our watches and our 
dining silver have been obstinately reappear- 
ing each morning in familiar security. Despite 
this reassuring circumstance, sleeplessness 
dominates the intercourse of mind with mind, 
which, whether expressed In art or literature, 
in newsprint or conversation, is made up of 
wan-eyed recountings of the new things each 
of us has found to be afraid of the night before. 
At a time when a holocaust has left the nerves 
of humanity raw and quivering, it is well we 
should stoutly take ourselves in hand to con- 
quer a universal neurasthenia. 

The best nerve treatment seems to be to 
convince the patient of what is the matter 
with him, and then to trust to his own com- 
mon sense to restore his equilibrium, A little 
examination into the nature of all sleeplcss- 
3 



ness may suggest a wider application of its 
cure, and a readier caution in accepting as 
reliable any verdicts reached in the night- 
watches. 

It is strange that we choose night-time to 
solve all the puzzles of the cosmos, that sturdy 
old cosmos which by day we are inclined to 
leave to its own doing or undoing. How many 
solutions reached at 3 a.m. have ever proved 
valid upon arising? What more worthless than 
the conclusions of an insomniac? Who knows 
this fact so well as the insomniac himself? The 
truth is, we are so helplessly irrational in the 
small hours that it even appears rational to 
lie awake. At night we are mastered by the 
fallacy that we are doing useful thinking, a 
fallacy immediately recognized when in the 
morning we resume the vertical. Why do we 
not oftener summon some of our daylight 
reason to counteract the unreason of the 
night? The newer psychological methods seek 
by argument to prove to the subconscious self 
the futility of insomnia in the hope that this 
obdurate subconscious self may thus at last 
be sufficiently convinced to grant us slumber. 

It is the horizontal attitude of the body 
combined with enveloping darkness that is the 
natural condition of physical impotence and 
of mental obscurity. For their power over us 




THE VIEW VERTICAL 

the horrors of the horizontal reach back Into 
the prehistoric. It has talten us seons to climb 
to the perpendicular. When we revert to the 
horizontal, we revert in some degree to our 
helplessness in the primordial ooze. We no 
longer front the stars with a brain that tops a 
vertical spinal column, but, lying down, incur 
once more the nameless perils of those days 
when we were mere hysterical amceba;, shud- 
dering and changing shape with every ripple 
of circumstance. The primal slime ever pulls 
us down, while the ultimate stars ever pull us 
upright; between the two lies our long evolu- 
tion toward the attainments accruing to the 
vertical; first we floated in the ooze, ourselves 
possessing neither top nor bottom; then we 
progressed to dominate a little our slimy sur- 
roundings, either swimming in or crawling 
upon them, but slowly advancing to the 
amphibian's distinction of a brain situated 
nearer to the sky than was his stomach; tlien, 
gradually, by some celestial attraction, we 
were hauled up and up and up until we passed 
into the stage when four feet lifted us above 
the mud, but still held our head parallel to it, 
therefore still horizontal, still palpitant to the 
perils awash in the near-by water, to the dan- 
gers stalking in the grass adjacent to our ears. 
By degrees, the emerging ape rose higher, 
5 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

arriving at such meager intuitions of his future 
powers as were possible to a brain no ionjjer 
parallel with earth, but aslant at times toward 
heaven. The monkey man was never faithful 
to the perpendicular, frequently flopping back 
from two feet to four, or subjecting himself to 
the mental instability — naturally attractive 
to a prehensile character — of hanging from 
his support head down! 

When we lie supine in the dark our pre- 
historic impotence dominates both our intel- 
lect and our emotions. The sleepless man can- 
not attain to clear thinking in an atmosphere 
reminiscent of a period when he was eyeless 
against the obscuration of surrounding mud 
and mist, nor can he aspire to courage in a 
position that pulls him back to a time when he 
could not even strike at hostile circumstance. 
The horizontal heart slips back to its reptilian 
sluggishness. By force of primeval habit the 
insomniac on his back upon his bed can be 
neither clear-headed nor brave-hearted. Note 
how, even among the lowest orders of attain- 
ment, the fish or the snake, to lie upon the 
native element belly upward is always evi- 
dence of the supreme surrender. 

The sleepless man usually lies upon his 
back, and so much the worse for him, for even 
in lying down there is a differing degree of 
6 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

weakness between prone and supine. The sol- 
dier when forced to be horizontal never lies 
supine, but prone, in position for pulling trig- 
ger upon an approaching enemy. Even in our 
moments of bitterest rebellion against circum- 
stance, when we own our powerlessness but 
do not acquiesce, we may cast ourselves down; 
but in these conditions we manage to fall face 
under, still possessing spirit enough to bite 
the enemy earth or pound it. It is only when 
we have utterly given up that we turn over 
upon our backs. Even when we indulge in the 
supine under happiest conditions — as be- 
neath the sun and shade of a summer tree, 
watching the lazy wanderings of the clouds — 
our attitude, while freed from terrors of the 
horizontal, still partakes of its helplessness, 
its inconsequent thinking, its relaxed resolu- 
tion. The brave sick are, indeed, to be com- 
mended, for they fight not only pain and 
weakness, but all the nameless debility of 
mind and soul growing out of our evolution 
from the horizontal to the vertical. 

Both our vocabulary and our experience 
prove to us our respect for the perpendicular 
position. We have scorn for the invertebrate, 
especially when human, because the creature 
is incapable of standing up. Our slang ex- 
presses contempt for any one who takes his 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

luck "lying down," and equally exalts the 
man who "stands up" to his fate. For each 
of us the perpendicular is always the attitude 
of resolution, of sanity, of serenity. Lives 
there anywhere an insomniac who does not 
know that nothing he thinks when lying 
awake is true, that nothing he feels is so? 
Does not sanity return to us even as we plant 
foot upon the fioor in the morning? Does not 
humor begin to warm our chilly fears even 
while we brush our hair for breakfast? Erect, 
we are proof against the panics of the remote 
amceba within us; vertical, we cannot slide 
back to the unstable mentality of the monkey 
in our make-up. Only when we stand up are 
we secure in our full inheritance as men. 
Only as our heads approach the sun do we 
share his vigor and lucidity. 

A further examination into the nature of 
insomniac thinking reveals the fact that the 
humor that visits us when upon our backs is 
as unreliable as is the terror. When we are 
lying down, both our fun and our fear are 
grotesquely alien to reality. To both alike, 

"the fly upon the pane 
May seem the great 03 of the distant plain." 

The horizontal fastens its blight upon our 
comic sense whether we dream our jokes in 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

actual slumber, or conceive them as we toss 
in wakefulness. So long as we lie abed our fun 
is fallacious. We have all had the experience 
of dreaming dreams that appeared to our 
sleeping mind exquisitely ludicrous. When we 
got up in the morning we remembered the 
night vision perfectly, but the comic clement 
had become so banal as to make us feel shaky 
for our reason. The supine position infects 
equally any humor that may visit us when we 
lie not dreaming, but awake. The sleepless 
man's merriment is either sardonic or hyster- 
ical. It is tainted by all that nameless in- 
security that belongs to the small black hours 
of the night-watches. The humor of insomnia 
harks back to the cave-man's bravado, to the 
monkey's antic efforts to divert the boa con- 
strictor. The ape may grin, in order to conceal 
either fatuousness or perturbation, but he 
cannot twinkle, he cannot chuckle, and neither 
can the human being when sleepless. Instead, 
the treacherous view horizontal transports 
him instantly back to the primitive, and be- 
yond that to the primordial. If you want 
cither to fight well, or to laugh well, you must 
stand up to do it. Now, nobody can help be- 
ing afraid when alone in the dark with in- 
somnia; the tendency is atavistic and ines- 
capable; but the best way of going to sleep is 
9 



th( 

flo. 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 



to remember how surely vigor will return with 
the vertical the moment our feet grip the 
floor in the morning. To the devil with the 
ape and the amceba that rule our vigils in the 
darkness! In the morning the sun winks a 
genial eye at us across the eternal mountains, 
and wags his great red head in mirth at our 
night-time fidgets. 

When we scrutinize all the aspects of sleep- 
lessness, and investigate the treacheries of the 
view horizontal, as we are each as individuals 
betrayed by it, we cannot doubt that this 
poor old world as a whole is to-day suffering 
an acute attack of insomnia. Where but in the 
ravings of sleepless nights could it have con- 
jured up the fears that have occasioned the 
convulsive legislation, the crazed actions, the 
frantic news columns, of these last years? 
Poor old nerve-shattered world, it needs to 
go and lie under a tree and take a nap. Unless 
all civilization is to slip back to a monkey- 
madness, unless our sanity is to flop down on 
all fours, we need to stand up and perceive 
by the means of the view vertical that really 
L nobody wants to eat us. If our civilization is 

' worth making such a fuss about, why should 

I it not have a little more confidence in its own 

'.. indestructibility? The morning sunshine is 

Lthe best germicide for the sleepless sickness, j 



H and b( 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 



and both we and the sun have been rising 
pretty regularly every morning for a good 
many generations, and since human evolu- 
tion appears as yet far short of finality, we 
shall probably continue so to rise for a good 
many generations to come. 

Gazing back into the abysses of the view 
horizontal from which evolution has been 
persistently fishing us out, as if some patient 
red and line were ever tugging us up to the 
view vertical, we can rightly appraise our 
constant tendency to revert to panic, and no 
longer deem a mere atavistic instinct worthy 
of consideration. As when we look back at our 
past development, it is possible for us to ex- 
perience over again the tremors of that iai-oS 
amoeba within us, so it is also possible, when 
we look ahead at the upward climb still be- 
fore us, for us to taste in advance the exulta- 
tion of the emergent angel. It may be our 
future destiny ever to be drawn sunward, 
always erect, always head uppermost. The 
patiently evolved view vertical may thus be 
extended into an ever surer perspective which 
shall reveal to us ail earth-doings as truly 
proportioned as is the living map spread be- 
^B neath a soaring airship. Gazing from that 
^H height we may behold all the woven roads of 
^H past history, and watch, as if they were busy 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

ants, the tiny men and women moving there, 
still going briskly about their deathless con- 
cerns. Shaken as we are to-day by ephemeral 
volcanoes, by evanescent cataclysms, we 
sometimes forget that the past is inalienably 
ours, all its merry people, all its happy by- 
paths. Still may we offer thanks to Heaven 
for our heritage of immortal books : Robinson 
Crusoe still wakes from shipwreck upon a 
desert shore; the big voice of great-heart 
Johnson still rumbles from the pages of Bozzy, 
and Hetty Thrale, and Hannah More; the 
twinkling pen of Jane Austen still paints a 
cosmos framed In a village window; beneath 
all transient class struggles Shakespeare still 
depicts the democracy of the human soul. 

From that windy high perspective to which 
our future shall lift us, we shall look down 
not only on the past, but on the present, and 
laugh at the night-fears that conjured up any 
menace to its safety. We shall see as we stand 
secure in air, gazing down, that eternal ram- 
parts forever protect the tender sanctities of 
family life, and all the busy comedy of human 
relations. Whatever forces may seem to rock 
our present world, human character some- 
how persists endlessly whimsical, and still 
presents an inexhaustible fund for observa- 
tion and for the gossip of chatty pens. Look- 



f 



11 



ing down at contemporary life from some 
cloudbank we shall see that while earth- 
quakes are rattling the locks of the front 
doors, there are even at this moment plenty 
of people to be discovered cultivating pure 
fun like a bed of hardy perennials in the 
backyard. 

From that sun-swept altitude, to which our 
ever-developing view vertical will some day 
lift us, we shall behold not only the past and 
the present, but also the future as a rolling 
map below us. We shall be high above the 
mists, and the jolly sun twinkling down over 
our shoulder will in a flash dispel our vapor- 
ous imaginings of the night, revealing those 
dragon shapes we tried to fight as being mere 
clouds assembled with the harmless intention 
of watering the earth. We shall perceive, per- 
haps, that the rivers of unrest are merely fol- 
lowing the commendable ancient practice of 
all rivers to wriggle to the sea. 

Even though we are yet too earth-bound 
to soar except in fancy, we may even now 
benefit by the tonic air belonging to that 
windy vantage-point-to-be. If we can main- 
tain the view vertical — feet to the sturdy 
green earth, head to the>jocund sun — we 
shall be able to laugh the poor old world out 
of its insomniac terrors. Even though we may 

*3 



THE VIEW VERTICAL 

be a bit wan with sleeplessness, if we stand 
straight, we shall recognize our panics as 
being mere figments of the night, and spring- 
ing up at sunrise to our heritage of the per- 
pendicular, we shall bid each other the top 
of the morning. 




CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 



I WAS lucky enough to be born to a quick 
temper. It is my only heirloom, but a 
priceless one, coming to me through un- 
broken generations who appreciated its pos- 
sibilities and kept it free from tarnish by 
active use. We have had duels and daggers in 
our family and feuds so sizzling hot that even 
quite ancient limbs of the family tree still 
emit a distinct odor of scorching. In every 
generation my ancestors prance and dance 
through our archives in superb vitality of 
inexhaustible rage. I am possessed of a tropi- 
cal grandsire of British extraction who if the 
joint was underdone used to summon the 
cook to the dining-room in order that he 
might hurl the offending morsel in her face. 
Dear gamy old sport, how I should have 
loved that grandfather! What bouts royal we 
might have enjoyed ! I should not have had to 
prick him on by patient and studied insult as 
I do the lily-livered folk who form most of my 
acquaintance. A word, a glance merely, and 
he and I should have hurtled forth to combat. 
What glorious buffets we should have given 
and taken! We should have let blood in a 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

dozen places, and having thoroughly purged 
ourselves of all superfluous spleen, and cleared 
the atmosphere of all accumulated thunder, 
how happily we should have sunk back upon 
repose — no pusillanimous apology, no ran- 
corous reconciliation, but the peace of perfect 
geniality and understanding! A forbear after 
my own heart, that. I wish I had such about 
me nowadays, but my present-day ancestors 
are of quite another color. 

In fact, my immediate family are such pa- 
cific folk that in my infancy they actually 
sought to restrain me in my demonstration of 
my natural talents, to such an extent, indeed, 
that my sense of the value of my most promi- 
nent characteristic was largely obscured. 
Children are rarely original thinkers; I own 
that for long I was hampered by conventional 
opinions on the subject of temper. Being 
daily instructed and energetically punished 
to this end, I did for a time actually believe 
that to cast myself upon the pavement in a 
frenzy at being invited to promenade in a 
direction contrary to my desires, or to attach 
myself tooth and nail to the person of a re- 
fractory playmate, was an exhibition un- 
worthy of myself. Again, my early training 
caused me frequently to squander much emo- 
tion in remorse. I have been known to pay 
i6 



k 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

for five minutes of passion by five hours of 
penitence, a histrionic expenditure distinctly 
to be avoided, as one thus finds one's emo- 
tional resources depleted the next time that 
occasion imperatively demands a fresh outlay 
of choler. Nowadays I never waste myself in 
remorse, but thriftily save myself for my 
rages. In childhood's hour I was guilty of 
ideals — though I never sank so low as to 
attain them — as to the nobility of self-con- 
trol. In maturity I advocate the expediency 
of a temper judiciously uncontrolled. 

I was in my teens before any filtering of 
this new light began to penetrate my mind, 
for I now noticed a change of attitude in my 
relatives. Whereas they had before punished, 
now that 1 was too big to punish, they 
sought to pacify. Their conduct was per- 
fectly consistent; both courses had root in the 
same principle, namely, that the majority of 
mankind will do almost anything for the sake 
of peace. This it is that makes the course of a 
firebrand so smooth and inviting. 

While yet in my salad days I discovered 
that I could get almost anything I wanted by 
making a scene about it. The success with 
which I have ever since acted in accordance 
with this knowledge is due simply to the fact 
that most people hate scenes. My kinsfolk 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

and friends, like humanity at large, generous 
in all else, are parsimonious in regard to 
emotion. They will lay down for me their 
money or their lives, but if they can help 
themselves they will not hand out to me their 
emotions. Spare them those, and they will let 
me have my way. Money is power, perhaps; 
I never had any, so I don't know; but that 
scene-making is power I know and have ex- 
perienced. Since alt one wants in life, after all, 
is merely what one wants, why not get it by 
the most immediate method? Why take the 
trouble to be a millionaire when all the world 
will let you have what you want if you will 
only kick and scream for it? When one's 
family or one's friends have all slunk like 
whipped curs from a red and riotous row, the 
manufacturer thereof is left master of the sit- 
uation to taste to the full the toothsomeness 
of having one's own way. 

Thus it is that I have come to regard my 
ability to make scenes as my most valuable 
asset, for I can make a scene out of almost 
anything. If need be, I can enter the most 
phlegmatic concourse, and my coming is as 
that of a terrier among tabby cats. I can 
descend upon the most placid of breakfast 
tables and leave it a perfect welter of emo- 
tions. There is a ridiculous old adage that it 
i8 



kl 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

takes two to make a quarrel; fudge! I could 
quarrel with anybody about anything at any 
moment; I say it with all due humility, for 
my skill merely comes of having conscien- 
tiously kept myself in condition. 

Let no one imagine that I am so base as to 
employ my talents solely for my own advan- 
tage. Scene-making has altruistic possibil- 
ities. I frequently use it as a means of re- 
straint ufxjn evil tendencies in others. I have 
a brother prone to cigarettes; presto, the 
merest whitF of tobacco throws me into 
spasms! He is a dear, domestic chap, worth 
making a bit of an effort for; I congratulate 
myself that I have saved him health and hap- 
piness by making home too hot to hold his 
cigarettes. Himself untainted by the odious 
perfume, he always finds me the coziest of 
household accessories. 

Then there is my pale friend possessed of 
an unconquerable affection for red. It is a 
color that in a wink's time wipes off all her 
loveliness, leaving only ashen pallor in its 
place. Now does this friend appear before me 
with but a vestige of the obnoxious color at- 
tached to her person — the music of those of 
Bashan is as nothing compared with my bel- 
lowing. She is the mildest of mortals, and, as 
a consequence of my aversion, she wears in 
19 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

my presence those blues that do so easily be- 
deck her. Thus do I preserve her intact from 
the evil results of her own ill-taste. In blue 
she finds me ever the most genial and gentle 
of comrades- 
Observe carefully, however, my treatment 
of both brother and friend, you who are seri- 
ously considering taking up scene-making for 
a profession as I have done. Pray do the thing 
artistically. Always become angry advisedly, 
coolly. I make it a rule never to rage except 
■when I want something; otherwise I am so 
amiable that it's worth anybody's while to 
keep me so. You can't make ill-temper val- 
uable to yourself except by making your 
good-temper valuable to your friends. You 
must have your glorious flashes of gentleness; 
nobody tries to buy peace of the perpet- 
ually cross-grained. SunninesSjWith perpetual 
threatening of explosion if crossed, is the best 
policy. I have made myself pretty well under- 
stood on this point. My acquaintance know 
that they need never fear any cherishing of 
rancor on my part. I have practiced until I 
can control the most headlong rage in an in- 
stant. My friends know that smiles and sun- 
shine arc at their disposal in that moment 
(but never the fraction of a second sooner) in 
which they cease to oppose me. 



1 



I 



I 



CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

For those, and for those only, whom these 
confessions may fire to emulation, I here 
utter one modest aside. The most serious 
menace to my career has not been from with- 
out, but from within. It is easy enough to re- 
duce the multitude to the touch-not-the- 
bomb attitude of mind; it's the attitude of 
your own mind that you can't always con- 
trol. To be a thoroughgoing scene-maker you 
should be devoid of humor; otherwise your 
best-arranged scenic effects will be constantly 
threatened with descent from low tragedy to 
high comedy. I have a few friends who have 
been dastardly enough to discover my vulner- 
able point. They have dared even In my most 
empurpled and embattled moments to try to 
make me laugh, and in a few notable occa- 
sions they have even dared to succeed. As far 
as those friends are concerned, It Is verily all 
up with me. I lie In their hands tame as a pre- 
ezploded firecracker; but fortunately for my 
peaceful course of violence their number is 
few. On the other hand, the number of those 
who can be controlled by the menace of an 
outbreak is still the vast majority of my 
acquaintance. To those intending to put my 
confessions to proof I can freely say that you 
can count to almost any extent on the Innate 
love of peace that exists in the heart of all 
21 




CONFESSIONS OF A SCENE-MAKER 

humanity. As for me, I now have my friends 
so pleasantly reduced in spirit, have estab- 
lished so genially my reputation for ungovern- 
able rage, that I merely have to look a little 
explosive and my desires are hurriedly meted 
out to me. I believe that I now see gleaming 
before me my ultimate goal, the purpose be- 
yond the purpose, for I believe that I have 
succeeded in becoming so notoriously violent 
that I can soon afford to give up my temper 
altogether and indulge my natural sweetness 
of disposition with impunity. 



WITH THE WHY-NOTS 

ONE intention in creating people so dif- 
ferent was that some of us might have 
the fun of classifying ail the rest. The pleasure 
of pigeon-holes is their possibilities of rear- 
rangement. But there is one compartment 
whence those who enter never return; it is the 
little limbo of the Why-nots. Once a Why-not, 
always a Why-not; but there is no cruelty in 
the Why-not's creation or his classification; 
for his is the most comfortably padded char- 
acter of all humanity. If you seek to describe 
a Why-not you will find first that he is a per- 
son you never ask to play with you. Why- 
nots cannot play. True, they have their gam- 
bolings of elephantine mirth, but if you join, 
you are likely to be a little shoved or trampled; 
for they have never learned either in jest or 
earnest that graceful veering away from im- 
pact which makes the aerial dance of genuine 
conversation. The Why-nots arc always talk- 
ative, they are never conversational. One rea- 
son that the Why-nots always talk is that one 
always lets tliem; it is easier than argu- 
ment, especially when, by definition, the 
Why-nots possess a plane of intercourse where 
43 



HTH THE WHY-NOTS 

argument cannot enter. Their most dis- 
tinguishing characteristic is their panoply of 
logic. 

I find that my Why-nots, when women, are 
lilicly to be frumpy in costume. They are flat- 
heeled and fearless. They are capable of 
wearing a three-year-old suit, and yet walk- 
ing Fifth Avenue as if they owned New York 
— Why not? What conceivable argument has 
our craven following of fashion to support it? 
I have even known Why-not women who 
practiced bare feet within their home pre- 
cincts, and were obviously healthier for it. 
Why not? By what possible reason could one 
have asked them to sacrifice vigor to custom? 
I was once walking with a Why-not lady 
along a steep street surmounted by a tele- 
graph pole; my companion was a woman of 
sixty, silver-haired, comfortably bonneted, 
splendidly athletic. She gravely proposed to 
cHmb the pole for the view, and did, with 
agility. Why not? Why should I have stood 
at the bottom, thanking Heaven for deserted 
windows and doorways and the remoteness of 
a policeman? If the policeman had appeared, 
I have no doubt she would have given him 
withering proof of her sanity, together with 
an alarming revelation of her knowledge of 
her civic rights. Yet why should he have 



WITH THE WHY-NOTS 

thought her insane? The view was glorious, 
and she could climb. Why not? The great 
trouble with the Why-nots is that they are so 
insanely sane. 

One's chief grievance against the band is 
that one's conscience is always cudgeling one 
to account for one's animosity, since the Why- 
DOtg are good folk. They pay their bills and 
keep the commandments, if not the conven- 
tions. Not all good people are Why-nots, but 
all Why-nots are good people. Our graceless 
levity sometimes prevents our seeing that it 
is the Why-nots who have made the world 
the orderly place it is, for the Why-not is the 
stuff out of which our reformers are created. 
The Why-not follows the light that is within 
him, and rights the universe by means of its 
rays, never deviating from his course because 
of a curiosity to examine other persons* 
smoky little lamps. He marches straight to 
his mark because he never sees other people's 
toes in his path. He has the reformer's 
singleness of eye untroubled by the twofold 
vision of his natural enemy, the humorist. 
Obviously you can sweep away the dirt much 
better if you never see any golden motes in 
the dust heap. The Why-nots walk through 
life without moving out of the way of other 
people's angles, while the humorist relishel 



I 



k 



25 



WITH THE WHY-NOTS 

as an adventure the sinuous course resulting 
from a constant avoidance of others' elbows, 
while preserving intact his own idiosyncrasies. 
Convention is a great protection of individual- 
ity. To follow all the external dictates of cus- 
tom is a method of kicking a joyous, dance 
through space while appearing to walk the 
circumspect street in the veiy latest shoes. 
This is a saying no Why-not will understand. 
Only those will understand who have lived it. 

I do not know whether it is by accident or 
by necessity of temperament that there has 
never been an artist in my group of Why-nots. 
The artist's alternate exaltation and depres- 
sion would be impossible to the Why-not's 
equable complacency. Self-centered, self-opin- 
onated, the artist may be; but he must pos- 
sess the conception of another person's point 
of view, even if it is merely the view of some 
creature of his own imagination. No Why-not 
ever had an imagination. 

There are male Why-nots who have been 
great voyagers, and who teli long travel-talcs 
of blood-curdling encounters and audacious 
achievements; but they tell them in a way to 
put one to sleep: for all the adventure in the 
world cannot make a Why-not anything but 
stodgy. The Why-nots may be adventurers 
by land or sea, but they arc never advcn- 
26 



1 



J 



WITH THE WHY-NOTS 

turers in other people's souls; for in that 
strange land you must learn the language be- 
fore you can go about safely, and a Why-not 
never speaks any language but his own. 

With all my study I come no nearer to 
exact definition. The Why-nots elude each ad- 
jective I clap upon them. Call them uncon- 
ventional, so are some of the most delicious 
people I know unconventional, and yet these 
retain a comradely consideration for other 
people's toes. After all what need of a defini- 
tion? For if you are not a Why-not you will 
always recognize the species, and if you are a 
Why-not you will never know it. 



STYLISH STOUTS 

THE title is not my own ; it is the comfort- 
ing caption that advertises a dress sale, 
comforting because it perhaps indicates an ep- 
ochal adjustment of fashion to fact. Is it pos- 
sible that the stout woman, poor dear, has at 
last become stylish? May she at last be frankly 
fat, emancipated from frantic remodelings at 
the hands of corsetiere and couturiere? The 
burden of obesity is not in the carrying of its 
pounds, but in being forced to treat the obvi- 
ous as if it were surreptitious. What dizzy ela- 
tion for the fat woman to realize that hence- 
forth she is suffered to be not only frank but 
fashionable! Dame Fashion is as fertile in the 
unexpected as Dame Fortune. 

The fat woman has been so long accustomed 
to commiseration that it may be difficult for 
her to realize her new dignity; we have all 
pitied her, been sorry for the bursting glove- 
clasp, the exuberant girth, the sweets desired 
but denied, the chin whose apparent hauteur 
was so unjust to the kindly heart beneath it; 
and above all for that plump palm laid upon 
our arm with its accompanying tremulous 
whisper, "Am I as fat as she, or she, or she?" 
28 



STYLISH STOUTS 

But now all that evil time is forgotten. The 
anti-fat nostrum, the recipes for rolling, the 
panting mountain climb, all the many- 
doctored advice, all the beauty-parlor pum- 
mcling — all this is obsolete, for obesity has 
come into its own. The corpulent dame now 
has dresses made to exhibit, not to conceal, 
her shapeliness; these throng authentic fash- 
ion-sheets. She has her own clothes, not the 
adapted "line" of the lean and lovely sylph. 
The fat woman is no longer done out of her 
inheritance by a cruel and carping world. 
She has become a "styHsh stout." 

The "stout" is even entering story, not for 
farcical effect either. There is an increasing 
number of portly heroines in fiction. The male 
novelist still averts his eyes a httic when he 
makes one. He leaves his outlines a bit vague, 
out of deference for past convention; for he 
knows he is an innovator. Fiction is always 
far in arrear of popular opinion, but there are 
a few romancers who are coming abreast of the 
times in portraiture. Alice of "Buried Alive" 
is a dumpy darling, and her charm is increased 
rather than diminished by the fact that she is 
fat. There is nothing neurasthenic about a 
well-padded person. The obese are always 
amiable. Older and wiser than we, the Ori- 
ental has incorporated this fact in his daily 



STYLISH STOUTS 

philosophy. In the Orient stouts have always 
been stylish. Knowing that fat women are 
good to hve with, the harem husband long 
ago persuaded both himself and the ladies 
that they are equally good to look at. The 
Westerner, on the contrary, is still at that cal- 
low stage of development when he tries to 
persuade himself that a woman, because she 
is good to look at, is also good to live with. 
Fortunate for the Occidental husband are 
our customs of liberty for ladies, permitting 
women whose nerves are but thinly clad with 
flesh to run freely about the streets, venting 
their irritability on the neighbors. Under 
Eastern seclusion a thin woman, closely con- 
fined, might keep the whole seraglio in a stew. 
It is for self-protection that Oriental conven- 
tion cultivates an Ideal of sleekness and opu- 
lence as the feminine standard. 

It is a curious fact that in neither East nor 
West has the stylishness of stouts been ex- 
tended to the male sex. The norm for man is 
to be long and limber. As the hero of romance, 
a man may be brawny; but except in farce, he 
may not yet be fat. In America this ideal of 
masculine slimness is explained by our fond- 
ness for thinking of our men as lean wrestlers 
with frontier conditions, for the fact of a 
frontier is still a pleasant figment of our fancj''. 



30 



d 



STYLISH STOUTS 

As a matter of brutal truth, both our men and 
our women have swelled perceptibly during 
a long period of plenty and of ease. Not all 
our Hooverizing has notably reduced the ten- 
dency of both sexes toward an opulent ma- 
turity. The pitiful point is that our men are 
not yet allowed by fashion to grow fat with 
dignity. Of course, it has never been so hard 
for a man to be voluminous as for a woman, 
because he thinks only of how uncomfortable 
he feels, and not, concomitantly, of how un- 
gainly he looks. And yet the fat man has had 
pain enough in being the butt of the papers 
and of his pals; and from this anguish he can- 
not be relieved until fashion lifts its ban from 
his person as it has lifted it from that of the 
lady. No shop is as yet exhibiting styles for 
the stout man. He is still forced to squeeze 
himself into clothes designed for the stripling. 
" But the emancipation of men will follow 
that of women. Women are not so selfish that 
they will permit themselves to expand Into 
efflorescence without seeking to obtain equal 
liberty for the fat man. No chivalrous woman 
will be content with her privilege of obesity 
without wanting men to share it. In due time 
the fat man, like the fat woman, will be made 
heroic in fiction and in fashion-plate. The day 
of the fat lady was long in dawning, but at 
31 



STYLISH STOUTS 

last her freedom and her fashionableness have 
arrived. Just as surely will a day come when 
tailors will announce to men patrons the 
happy era of stylish stouts. 



THE FRIENDS OF OUR FRIENDS 

ONE of the accepted disappointments 
that are the milestones of our adjust- 
ment to life is the lost hope of making our 
friends love each other. Honestly scrutinized, 
our wish to have two friends join hands in 
intimacy is not so clearly commendable that 
we are justified either in surprise or in sensi- 
tiveness when our efforts fail. One of two mo- 
tives is usually discernible in urging two 
friends upon each other — either pride in 
exhibiting a possession or pride in exercising 
philanthropy. Some of us can never keep des- 
tiny's best gift, a friend, to ourselves; we be- 
lieve that we have discovered a prize, we wish 
other people to applaud our discernment and 
to accept the treasure at our valuation. 

Our other motive, the pride of philanthropy, 
is even more deceptive. We decide that 
Charles and James will be good for each 
other, and forthwith we presume to become 
the little tin god who shall introduce them. 
Complacently we occupy the pedestal of 
Providence. But who can prophesy that 
Charles and James will be good for each other? 
It is a matter for their Maker only. 
33 



THE FRIENDS OF OUR FRIENDS 

It is necessary to have a clear comprehen- 
sion of how friends are in the first place ac- 
quired before we can fully examine the meth- 
ods and the motives for mixing them. For 
precision we may employ algebraic symbols: 
Let A represent the original person who has 
attracted to himself out of ali the universe 
Old Friend B and Newer Friend C. A is not 
content to exchange heart hospitality with B 
and C separately; he must have them meet 
under the auspices of his introduction. Yet 
the infinite variety of reasons why B and C, 
D and E, and all the alphabet of friends down 
to Z, may be the friends of A are most unlikely 
to be the same reasons that should bind them 
to each other, A's introduction of each to each 
is coercion and no hearts' bond. Friendship is 
binding only as it is the fetter freely assumed 
by the free. It irks us if the chain is clamped 
by any third hand, however well loved. 

How often have we all gone through the 
ordeal of our friend's introduction to his 
friend ! How adroitly A elicits our best anec- 
dote, exhibits some endearing prejudice, goads 
on our enfeebled conversation! A's unwar- 
ranted attempt to show off B and C is akin to 
the cruelty that sends our four-legged friends 
to a dog show. The blue ribbon is scant com- 
fort to tlie unhappy kennel; it is merely a 



^H prize 
^ to be 



^HE FRIENDS OF OUR FRIENDS 

prize for the owner's pride. One is not willing 
to be one's friend's pet poodle. Nor yet is one 
ready to be any man's parcel to be handed to 
another man to be opened without one's leave. 
To one's chosen friend one is willing to deliver 
one's self, his own package; but let him invite 
some one else to untie the strings, and, being 
human, one has all a parcel's emotions. 

The matter is still more deserving of pro- 
test when the delicate manipulation of A's 
introduction suggests hidden reformatory in- 
tentions. By his gingerly shoving each upon 
each, we — B and C — perceive that he thinks 
we need each other's services, that he wishes 
us to organize a tiny society for mutual im- 
provement. But in friendship we desire nei- 
ther to better nor be bettered; we desire to 
enjoy ourselves. 

As matter of theory, A's efforts to introduce 
his friends deserve never to succeed; but, as 
matter of fact, they do actually sometimes 
succeed completely, sometimes partly, as 
oftener they utterly fail. It is destructive to 
A's friendship with either to discover that B 
and C are more congenial with each other 
than either has ever been with him. It is as if 
on the day of introduction all three, A and B 
and C, were three atomic personalities sitting 
each on his point of a triangular acquaintance, 
35 




THE FRIENDS OF OUR FRIENDS 

but from the day of introduction B and C 

tended to approach nearer and nearer, until 
at last A perceives them completely fused 
and together withdrawing utterly from him 
out into space. Of all the original triangle 
there is left only A sitting on his desolate httle 
dot. He deserved the dot, but it's lonesome, 
as all of us know, for we have all at some time 
sat upon it. 

Perhaps half success in making friends love 
each other is even more permanently awk- 
ward than complete success. Perhaps B and 
C make some insincere attempts at affection, 
wholly for A's sake, only to abandon these 
efforts later and to come sneaking back sepa- 
rately to his hospitality, making but airy refer- 
ence or none at all to each other's existence. 
Yet when B's name is dropped, or C's, it 
means thenceforth a closed door in conversa- 
tion, and when the essence of comradeship is 
the glad possession of the areas of another 
soul, then every locked gate is a loss. 

But there is a still sadder issue possible for 
the effort to force one friend upon another. 
The feeling of B and C for each other may not 
be passive endurance, but enmity so intense 
as in the end to include even A. B may argue 
that your affection for so depraved a person 
as C reveals depravity in you, and C may 

36 



THE FRIENDS OF OUR FRIENDS 

equally distrust you for your culpable fond- 
ness for B. You yourself may find it impossi- 
ble to forgive either for the failure to appreci- 
ate the other. The end of the matter may be 
that each little atom shall go stamping off in 
his own direction, all three with each step 
growing more hopelessly sundered. Yet you, 
Friend A, deserve the fate of any man who 
would put fetters on friendship. Only by free- 
dom of choice among atoms to combine with 
whom they will, can we feel our human dig- 
nity. To myself I am but a winking dust-mote, 
but to my friend a wandering star of his dis- 
covery. Let all friendship be free, for there Is 
nothing so wind-tossed and weak as an atom 
that goes alone; there is nothing so lordly aa 
two atoms, who, locking arms and prancing 
air, go forth to pass judgment on the universe 
together. 



AN ARGUMENT FOR ABSENCE 

PARTING is sometimes so sweet that one 
wonders why anybody should ever call it 
a sorrow. If the gentle mood and gentle man- 
ners incident to a departure might only be- 
come permanent, there would be no occasion 
to argue for absence as a means of mutual un- 
derstanding. Our guardian angels, saddened 
by the bickerings of intimacy, have a way 
sometimes of flying off with us when we have 
failed to keep step with our housemates, 
failed sometimes out of sheer impatience, 
eometimes out of sheer inability to maintain 
their stride. The mere prospect of removal 
has a benign influence; we never quarrel with 
people who are going away to-morrow. Occa- 
sionally one wonders whether it might not be 
possible to adopt for use in association some 
of the advantages of absence. 

It may be well to ascertain what these are, 
and why it is often easier to love people when 
we are away from them, or at least easier to 
be civil to them. One reason is a case of con- 
science. It is a good deal more instinctive to 
be one's brother's keeper than not to be, and 
it is equally instinctive for brother not to like 

38 



AN ARGUMENT FOR ABSENCE 

it, and to retaliate in kind. Mutual responsi- 
bility for daily conduct is a direct result of 
daily contact, and is a responsibility usually 
very vocally expressed. Relief from the duty 
of bringing up our intimates is the chief re- 
freshment of going away from them, but is 
it not a relief that might conceivably be 
attained even when staying at home? Is it 
positively necessary to put a thousand miles 
between them before brethren can dwell to- 
gether in unity? Yes, exactly such necessity- 
is maintained by argument for absence. To 
understand, one must remember that the 
chief function of flesh is to conceal soul. The 
envelopes in which we are done up are often 
most misleading as to contents. The more 
we see of people, the more their bodies get 
in the way of clear comprehension. Little 
tricks of gesture weary our eyes; some ha- 
bitual snore or snuffle, some reiterated ex- 
pletive, teases our nerves, until the soul they 
obscure is hidden wholly by blundering body. 
All these small impacts are forgotten at a 
distance, and soul shines clear in our absent 
converse, and dominates inalienably the har- 
mony of our return. 

Not alone the intimacy that is wearing 
threadbare is best restored by periods of re- 
moteness; the most harmonious association 

39 




AN Argument for absence 

needs sometimes the tonic of separation, by 
which two people, each setting forth alone, 
can make discoveries and win trophies to 
bring back for sharing. People should part for 
a bit when they find their footsteps too 
smoothly fitted each to each, for just here 
comes in the danger that their sinews lose 
adaptability. For fluent adjustment of mind 
and muscle we had better sometimes try asso- 
ciation with people whose pace is provoca- 
tive. 

Friends everybody has with whom associa- 
tion must always mean a maximum of ab- 
sence and a minimum of presence. We can't 
take them too steadily because we take them 
too headily. Keeping up with them must al- 
ways make us glad but breathless. These are 
people over-subtle or over-stimulating. We 
have to run off by ourselves and ruminate 
their words and experiment with them by 
applying them to our lives, before we are 
ready to come back for more. 

As one thinks about the efficacy of absence 
one pauses to ponder the nature of the hole 
left in the household by the witlidrawa! of a 
member. For those left behind the resulting 
sensation is either of space or of a vacuum, 
and neither efTect can be predicted in advance. 
The very people whom one expects most to 
40 



XSr^Ti'GtftitNT FOR absence" 

miss sometimes leave behind them a sense of 
room, freedom, exhilaration. People one ac- 
counts negligible when they are at hand some- 
times, by going away, create a vacancy to be 
filled only by their return. The truth is that 
personality is a matter of cubic feet. Persons, 
well loved, delightful, dominant, sometimes 
take up more room than anybody dreams. 
One expects to miss them intolerably, and 
instead one discovers that one's legs and arms 
and thoughts were all a little cramped, and 
it feels guiltily good to stretch them. There 
are, on the other hand, people quite different 
whose characters seem to make room rather 
than to take it. When they go away one is 
amazed to discover that it was in their pres- 
ence one's imagination flew farthest, one's 
interests stretched widest, one's ideas delved 
deepest. One discovers that these quiet ones 
were for their associates space-producing peo- 
ple. The gift of a dominance that takes room 
from others without their knowing it, and the 
gift of a sympathy that gives room to others 
without their knowing it, prove alike that 
personality is calculable by the metric system. 
No house is big enough to hold many personal- 
ities at once; that is why the guardian angels 
advocate absence now and then, discreetly 
applied. They have a way, these gentle guard- 



AN ARGUMENT FOR ABSENCE 

ian angels, of so training the feet of the sun- 
dered that when at last they lead us back, we 
are surprised at the ease with which we fall 
into the step of true comradeship. 



ON BEING AND LETTING ALONE 

ONE may readily divide one's friends into 
those who crave solitude and those who 
crave a crowd. Any given individual of these 
classes may not be able to get what he wants, 
but he is to be classified by his desire, as to 
whether he is always secretly wishing to be 
alone, or always secretly fearing to be. There 
are persons who sicken for solitude as a plant 
fades for light. They do not always know what 
is the matter with them, neither do their 
housemates; they are merely stifling for lack 
of stillness. It needs only an hour's, a day's, 
withdrawal to restore them to selfdom. 

People who like to be alone favor different 
varieties of solitude: one of them may wish to 
be alone with sun or stars or shining hills; 
another may desire shut-in seclusion with a 
book; another longs for isolation with a piano 
or a palette; a few women who make a science 
of domesticity like to be left alone with their 
houses. Whatever it is with which any of these 
people desire to be secluded, it is always found 
to be something that has not a self. Out-of- 
doors, books, art, science, are enfranchising 
because they are spacious and impersonal; 
43 



ON BEING AND LETTING ALONE 

they do not Impede the spirit by any personal 
clamor or criticism, either suspected or spoken, 
A desire for solitude is a desire often adroitly 
concealed, but we can always recognize among 
our friends those who love to be alone, when 
we find ourselves Jealous of the subtle self- 
sufficiency of their retirement, not always 
perceiving that there is nothing that will make 
their eyes light with such appreciative com- 
radeship as being discreetly left atone. 

In sharp contrast are the people who never 
want to be by themselves. For some reason 
they are often as garrulous as they are gre- 
garious, while the solitary arc always good 
listeners. The lovers of a crowd are reduced to 
tearful protest by a half-hour of "lonesome- 
ness," while the lovers of loneliness seem least 
lonely when most alone. The others find the 
most sociable woodland lonesome unless gay 
hotel guests swarm through it. They would 
not recognize a meadow if they met it out 
walking alone. They would perhaps not recog- 
nize themselves if separated from a throng of 
others of the same kind. There is nothing they 
are so afraid of as of the spacious and imper- 
sonal; and yet, with ail their preoccupation 
with the personal, they do not seem to achieve 
much personality. 

Not all lovers of crowds, however, are shal- 
44 



r 



ON BEING AND LETTING ALONE 

low and silly. There are others, nobler, finer, 
the noblest and finest perhaps that one could 
discover. These are big, busy people to whom 
hurry and hubbub never bring any pressure 
of pain. They love a crowded existence be- 
cause it means ministry. They never seem to 
tire of incessant demands upon their time and 
sympathy, but rather to thrive upon them. 
Unless the sick and sad and sorry throng their 
path, they cannot find their own way upon it. 
They arc people with brains, brains bent al- 
ways on the executive and immediate, not the 
kind of brains that require room to soar and 
dive and dig. Practical people these, unselfish, 
noble. Yet they are never people one could 
picture as alone with a mountain, a book, their 
own souls. They would endure such commun- 
ion with fortitude, but not with pleasure. 

By a curious anomaly those who flee soli- 
tude, and those who crave it, are not thereby 
to be classified as social and anti-social — 
lovers of their kind versus haters of it. The 
lovers of loneliness are often the warmest- 
hearted people in the world, and socially most 
gracious and considerate, taught by their own 
sensitiveness to contacts how to avoid bump- 
ing into the idiosyncrasies of their fellows. 
They so conscientiously support their ideal of 
sympathy that often those who most love soli- 

45 




ON BEING AND LETTING ALONE 

tude are exactly those who would be least sus- 
pected of such a yearning. So gracefully does 
a hostess bend a listening ear to her guests 
that no one would dream that what she in- 
wardly most desires is to be swinging at the 
heart of the farthest pine-tree, while a lonely 
moon rides overhead, and a lonely wind pipes 
at her ear. The group of the solitary-souled is 
often delightful in company, alluring by Its 
very suggestion of retirement — of a humor- 
ous peering-forth at the world from recesses 
it vastly prefers, 

On the contrary, the lovers of crowds are 
by no means always socially successful. The 
superficial class is often banal, or caustic and 
gossipy and vacuous in conversation. As for 
the other nobler ones, busy and philanthropic, 
they are not — not always — so very inter- 
esting, however admirable. 

To be interesting one must have thoughts 
that wander up and down, to and fro. Such 
thoughts require space and silence and free- 
dom from impact. People who love to be alone 
are always people who think. Thoughts are 
invisible, but possibly not imponderable; pos- 
sibly they require room, room actual and ma- 
terial, where they can wheel and dart and dis- 
cover. Thinkers, therefore, instinctively avoid 
a crowd — a crowd, that is, of people who 

46 



ON BEING AND LETTING ALONE 

know the thinker familiarly, people whose 
conjectured attention and comment occasion 
that sense of repression precisely most op- 
posed to the free flights of individuality. A 
crowd of strangers, on the other hand, ab- 
sorbed, indifferent, often provides the most 
inspiring kind of solitude. Whether their se- 
clusion be found indoors or out, in the silent 
study or noisy street, people who love to be 
alone will always be found to be people whose 
thoughts, flying far and free from touch or 
taint of other people, are building for them 
that spacious possession called a personality. 



A SOLILOQUY ON SORTING 

HAVE any of us forgotten those far-off 
springtimes when we, small eager peo- 
ple in pinafores or kilts, observed the adults 
of our household, as they hauled forth the 
winter's accumulation from the closets, and 
laboriously discarded, rearranged, retied, and 
returned it to the soapy-smelling shelves? In 
our memories the fragrance of soap mingles 
with the fragrance of violets, both connoting 
April. The call of spring is so subtly com- 
pounded of energy and enervation that it 
seems strange that it is always the energy 
that prevails, making April the date for house- 
cleaning. Perhaps we share with Nature her 
instinct to clear away the winter's clutter, 
retaining only so much as may be needed in 
the new life of spring, throwing aside all that 
might impede the pushing of fresh blade and 
blossom. There is in us more of vegetable im- 
pulse than wc recognize, and they are sadly 
desiccated mortals whose spirits do not bur- 
geon immortally in every spring, and who do 
not, with the spirit's stirring, feel once more 
the need to sift and rearrange all the body's 
stored impedimenta, food supplies and furni- 

48 



A gOtttOOUY ON SORTING 

ture, books and clothes, fripperies and fineries. 
How eagerly, when we were tiny, we used to 
watch for those riches of rubbish, discarded 
by our ciders, with which we might ourselves 
begin to store and sort and stow away! Comic 
and crude our childish standard of selection 
and arrangement, to which each little bud- 
ding personality held the clue. Industrious as 
baby beavers, we thrilled to our first sorting, 
instinctively aware that the classification of 
the treasures earth flings us is the sole endur- 
ing imprint the evanescent self can leave ufx)n 
its surroundings. 

The zest of life is in its successive sortings 
as we travel from decade to decade, from 
place to place, from faith to faith. Life is an 
endless battle against clutter. No sooner do 
we get through one job of assortment than 
Gome unobserved, mounting heap of some- 
thing else challenges our sense of order and 
analysis. Most of us, at any given moment, 
are conscious of a pile of something some- 
where in our lives that needs sorting — it 
may be a mass of old books or old boots, or 
merely old motives. There is hardly any 
peace of mind so deep as that one experiences 
just after one has satisfactorily sorted some- 
thing. Yet always inexorably, insidiously, a 
fresh inchoate pile is mounting somewhere 
49 




I 



;Ti:OQUY ON SORTING 

on our spirit's premises, demanding arrange- 
ment. 

True there are people who evade the burden 
by never pausing long enough on any expe- 
rience to discover where it belongs in the 
soul's store of noble and less noble. Such peo- 
ple move from apartment to apartment, all 
ready furnished, all without closets, all too 
public to afford any privacy for personal 
hoards. But somehow those others are more 
interesting whose spirits have cubby-holes 
containing bags and boxes, quaintly labeled, 
perhaps, but inviting. These never outgrow 
the childish ardor for examining the trinkets 
others throw aside, as being perhaps for their 
own humbler selves significant. These long 
for room enough and leisure enough to over- 
haul life's fleeting opinions, its flashing visions, 
and arrange them into ordered piles, for use- 
ful application. Some of us yearn for an old- 
fashioned garret, such as our fathers possessed 
both in their heads and in their houses, where 
crowding conglomerate impressions may be 
safely stored until we have time to arrange 
them, and where, after such selection, we may 
keep our neatly ticketed solutions for handy 
reference. By means of garrets the wisdom 
of our ancestors was preserved, mellow with 
experience, rich with romance. Like a child 




A SOLILOQUY ON SORTING 

bent on adventure one might steal "up attic" 
and live for a while in one's , grandfather's 
soul, all quick with life beneath the dust and 
cobwebs. 

Perhaps those old garrets were musty, or 
perhaps, on the other hand, they held in- 
violate the aroma of tradition. Perhaps mod- 
ern homes and modern heads, empty of 
storage-room, are more sanitary, or perhaps 
they are more barren, than those of our 
fathers, but certain it is that in this present 
there is small provision for storing or for 
sorting. We fight for mere breathing space as 
events, piling up too fast for all our efforta 
to appraise them, encroach from every cor- 
ner upon our serenity. Shall we be utterly 
swamped while we struggle to formulate an 
ordered creed and conduct from out this 
chaos? Yet there is stimulus and sting in the 
effort to master whatever portion of con- 
temporary clutter to-day invades even the 
humblest home. After a long winter of dis- 
content social forces stir in some strange 
springtime of hope, and we must sift and 
sort and throw away all accumulation that 
would retard even the shyest blossom of as- 
piration, must retain whatever may give 
vitality to even the faintest blade of human 
progress. We must up, each one of us, and at 
51 




A SOLILOQUY ON SORTING 

our spring sorting. The effect may leave us 
beaten and breathless, but better that than 
not to have tried to understand. 

Perhaps life is meant to be merely a lesson 
in sorting. Perhaps we are set down before 
our variegated experiences as children are put 
to a task of selecting colored threads from a 
heap. The threads are as worthless as our 
transient opinions, but the color perception 
gained is an asset for all the child's life to 
come. Perhaps the pedagogical purpxise that 
overwhelms us continually with new knowl- 
edge, new experience, new sensation, is to 
make our spirit's eyes sharp, our spirit's se- 
lection deft and sure, in order that we may 
recognize unerringly whatsoever things are 
lovely when we move hence to that new abode 
where is being stored all earth's evanescent 
loveliness for our eternal enjoyment. There 
are some who have conceived heaven as a 
supernal attic where we may forever delight 
in reviewing and revaluing all the garnered 
treasures of earth. He had but scant time for 
any mortal hoarding, that finely discrimi- 
nating young poet who wrote: 

"Still may time hold some golden space 
Where I'll unpack that scented store 
Of song and flower and sky and face, 

And count and touch and turn them o'er, 

5» 



A SOLILOQUY ON SORTING 

Musing Upon them; as a mother, who 

Has watched lier children all the rich day through, 

Sits quict-handed, in the fading light, 

When children sleep, ere night." 

There is homely wisdom In that phrase, 
"putting one's house In order" as euphemism 
of preparation for our final flitting. Putting 
our house in order means that we shall leave 
no clutter for others to sort; that for our suc- 
cessor our memory shall be an orderly place 
where he may enter and ponder our arrange- 
ment, that arrangement being the only en- 
during impress the human soul can make 
upon its transitory possessions. Perhaps we 
shall have traveled far from our babyhood's 
springtime when we watched the grown-ups 
sorting the winter's accumulation, our eager- 
ness all a-tiptoe to secure some rubbish to 
dominate with our own ownership and ar- 
rangement. On some quiet day securely stored 
in the future, we shall be called to do our last 
sorting; however faint our hands and dull our 
eyes, we shall rally once more to springtime 
energy, overhaul our cramped closets, dis- 
card the unessential, pack away, neatly 
labeled, the piles that we deem of abiding 
value. Yet even on that last day, we shall not 
know securely whether our standards of se- 
lection are the true ones. Have we not so many 
53 



A SOLILOQUY ON SORTING 

times thought we had discovered the final 
verities, only to recataloguc on another day, 
tossing past treasures on the trash-pile, or 
running to the ash-heap to reclaim some prize 
our earlier stupidity had repudiated? Yet we 
never lost the lifelong zest of rearrangement. 
Only those people outgrow the delight of 
Eorting whose spirits have forgotten all April 
burgeoning. We know that even in our last 
spring sorting wc shall be but fallible in our 
selection. Not even then shall we know what 
it were best to take with us. Mercifully, we 
need not decide, for the celestial escort, hav- 
ing gently blindfolded our eyes the more se- 
curely to lead us over, will look at our little 
piles with divine amusement at our crude 
baby valuations, and then will select, better 
than mortal wisdom could, those earthly 
treasures best fitted to keep a little child, in 
a strange new house, from being homesick. 



DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 

IT has been my gracious luck to live for a 
little space of peace near to a woman who 
loves drudgery, tossed up to her from the 
nearly shipwreck of heavy sickness. I was 
sailing after storm in a wide stiil sea, on and 
on, up to an island with a high portal. The 
great gate swung ajar — and then, after all, 
they would not let me through. But I had 
looked within. Nor I nor Lazarus shall tell 
what we saw, but I have come back crippled 
with strangeness. Life seems tome shelterless. 
My friends sei.m strangely busy about curi- 
ous small matters. The sun is unfamiliar and 
I have forgotten the language of the rain. 
Mystery cries to me in the wind beyond the 
window. I perceive sun and rain, wind and 
snow, I see the long blue aisles, bleak with 
infinitude, where the white stars are swung, 
but I cannot feel at home. 

But as the gentle weeks flow by me here, 
do they perhaps bring healing? Still half in 
dream, I watch the ways of little things. I 
think there is no occupation in this home that 
is not touched and tricked into an art. Exalt 
dish-washing to the plane of ceremony and 

5S 



DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 

see what happens. Even the initial movement 
merits the dignity of argument — whether It 
is better to scrape and stack in the dining- 
room or to transfer the clutter to the kitchen 
table before arrangement. The first method 
has the advantage of more immediate con- 
ciseness, but the latter prevents the flirting 
of gravy or egg on the table linen, with all the 
resultant upheaval in the napery sequence of 
the week. 

There is heakh and healing in dish-washing 
when it moves to a cheery little ritual all its 
own. Let the kitchen table be covered with 
oilcloth white as milk and satiny as a mirror. 
Arrange all first with symmetry — plates in 
a pyramid in which no several platter shall 
be out of plumb in the mounting structure, 
and match the silver, teaspoon to teaspoon, 
fork to fork, thus both before and after wash- 
ing. Put all the little pitchers in a company, 
and the glasses, and the cups. Have all dishes 
scraped and rinsed to the uttermost before 
the final rite of baptism, then leave them thus, 
for in the ethics of dish-washing the law is 
pans first. There is deep wisdom in attacking 
griddle and frying-pan with your first soap- 
suds and your freshest energy, and keeping 
the tempting glassware and silver as the des- 
sert of your efforts. 

56 



DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 

After the sturdy stress of cleansing the 
cook-pans, the mere dishes are a more ease- 
ful encounter. Gently my friend washes and 
wipes, polishes, and puts away cup and 
glass, pot and kettle; for are they not all her 
comrades, genial with service? Perhaps she 
is not overswift, this .kitchen poet amid her 
soapsuds. I surmise an objection, staccato- 
sharp: Why should she linger over dish- 
washing? Why does n't she get done? I fear 
the objector is some terrifying feminist, too 
logical for argument, whereas the housewife 
I picture is nrierely a woman looking sharp to 
see what is the ultimately worth while. That 

i Get-Done is a terrible slave-driver. Why 
do you wish to get done, except to do nothing 
or to do something else? But why nothing? 
And the something else — are you quite sure 
it makes you or any one a whit happier than 
it does to make a cheerful suds of your dish- 
water and sing a song of joy to it? 

My friend might be a bed-maker to a 
king. There is no day when the deepest se- 
crets of mattresses and springs are not laid 
bare to air and sun. Pads and pillows can 
never grow lumpy when so deftly kneaded, 
nor sheets so tight-drawn crumple. The final 
result is a big white cake with pillows and 
bolster as embossments of frosting. But never 
57 




' Crudgery as a fine art 

tell her the bed is too beautiful to lie upon if 
you do not wish to merit her scorn. Here is 
not a home, she would have you know, where 
a bed is better than its occupant; if her bedi 
are daintily dealt with, it is to make them 
the gentler to feet that are tired and backs 
that are cricked. In her house things have not 
the mastery; it is as ministers that she loves 
them. She may delight in mending, but if her 
needle weaves'a fairy pattern on your stock- 
ing toe kindly remember that it is to make 
your steps the smoother. Alt things that 
hands can do she loves. I do not suppose that 
she would deliberately punch you in order 
afterwards to poultice, but if an icy pave- 
ment should rise up and batter you down she 
would take as deep comfort as you in her 
liniments and her rubbing; and if you should 
come to her snuffling and a-fcvcred she would 
have a masterful delight in drubbing all 
germs out of your system. 

Of all home-making arts, surely cooking 
should be the most enjoyable, and with my 
friend it is. Cooking affords such scope for 
invention, imagination, creation — ^ In a word, 
for personality, A cook and her material are 
in direct and stimulating relation. You can 
imagine nothing more a revelation of person- 
ality than mashed potato, passing, as it may, 

58 



DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 



^^^DR 

^1 all the way from a sodden indigestibility, 
^1 gray and chill and salty, to a creamy fluff of 
^H succulence upon the palate. My friend casts 
^V herself into her cook-pot in an abandon of 
creation, and miracles result. Your tomato 
hardly recognizes himself for a mere vege- 
table, so delicately is he transformed into 
I jelly and scallop and chutney. Her biscuits 
respond to her watching as if they were blos- 
soms that must expand. Her omelets, me- 
ringues, souffles, are light as foam. Her mar- 
malades have an amber beauty; and they 
I should have, for has she not listened for the 
ripe gurgle from that syrupy mass a-boil as 
alertly as if it were the murmur from a cradle? 
It is in the study of flavoring that she chiefly 
excels. She is one who weighs the value of a 
hint, one of the rare women who may be 
trusted with garlic. In her house I pity those 
stupid people who keep a kitchen door shut, 
not recognizing a kitchen as a magician's 

I workshop. What nose would shut a door on 
mustard pickle and currant gingerbread,'' 
In this kitchen I garner many a household 
hint tossed to me as my friend brews or bakes, 
scours or sews. Nothing goes to waste from 
her soup-kettle or bread-box or work-basket. 
I watch her make a glory of cleaning the re- 
frigerator, I observe all the useful devices she 
59 




DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 

can compass with a clothespin, and I wonder 
which she more enjoys routing, the great 
devil Dirt or the great devil Waste. She has 
minutest methods of saving money, saving 
mess. I do not think she has one for saving 
time. To take more thought how you shall 
spend your time than how you shall save it 
implies a different sense of values in her 
science of home-making; this is a home with- 
out hurry. 

Here I am learning the loveliness of little- 
ness. Such small things delight this house- 
wife! A glass of currant jelly in the window; 
the god Sun deigns to look through it, and 
it's a great globed jewel. A tulip bed shaped 
by angel fingers to be a pulsing flame; seen 
from the kitchen doorstep it is a thing to 
make her clap her hands. TTie lid lifted from 
the kitchen range on some cloud-banked 
morning reveals such palpitant lire-sprites as 
quicken one's breath with wonder. Jelly and 
tulips and kitchen fire are mysteries turned 
tame and tender in her eyes, mysteries that 
help to make a home, and do not frighten. 
My friend's hands, busy with many devices 
seeming small, are they not achieving a shel- 
ter and a sanctuary in the midst of the en- 
gulfing strangeness of this big universe? I half 
guess she is manipulating me as deftly as if I 

fig 



1 



\ 

I 
I 



DRUDGERY AS A FINE ART 

were bread or blossom. I sip peace in her 
presence, and am as trustful in her hands aa 
if I were a biscuit or a begonia. 

Setting me briskly to polishing her tea- 
spoons, has she perhaps succeeded in polish- 
ing a forgotten twinkle into my eyes? Gaz- 
ing through her sunny window-panes, I no 
longer see a world hostile with mystery. Look, 
is n't a friendly universe cheerily making a 
home for me, bo that I may be cleaned and 
fed and warmed by the best sanitary methods? 
See the busy brown fingers of the rain all 
sudsy with scouring out the gutters, and in 
the winter watch the tossing white brooms of 
the snow dusting off the air, and then in 
spring's big kitchen look at the sun, Phcebua 
Apollo in a chef's cap, doing my cherries to 
just the right turn. Rain, snow, and sun, do- 
ing the world's drudgery with the same high 
zest as that with which my friend does it, and 
with the same high purpose of welcome to the 
stranger, she and they have restored me from 
sickness; at last I feel at home. 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

THE present period is marked by an In- 
creasing distrust of science. We are wak- 
ing up to the fact that some of the fairest 
provinces of uncertainty are threatened by 
the invasion of accurate knowledge. The en- 
croachments of scientific exactness upon 
guesswork are so insidious, that unless we 
strengthen our defenses in time, we may lose 
some of our trustiest strongholds. We have 
been used to view one spot as well-nigh im- 
pregnable to clear understanding, and that 
spot is our own self. For a good many aeons 
we have lived along comfortably, each in a 
sturdy tower, divining each other's interior 
only by fallible peepholes, and communicat- 
ing, when we care to communicate, by means 
of safe little subterfuges called words. We 
have been reasonably secure from approach 
by earth, air, or sea. The whole fabric of so- 
ciety Is built on the assumption that we 
never get at each other, never really know 
what our next-door neighbor is up to. 

It is about time that some one noticed that 

science is plotting a descent upon this pleasant 

privacy. If we flatter ourselves that we are 

62 



I 



going to be allowed to think our own thoughts 
in isolation, it is high time that we listened to 
some of the threatening voices that go un- 
heeded. I quote one such, which advocates 
introducing to this mortal scene the chief 
inconvenience incident to post-mundane ex- 
istence. 

"One could communicate with extraor- 
dinary swiftness and ease by imagination 
alone. Talk soul to soul, as it were. It is a 
simple trick and can be practiced between 
human beings while on earth, and is indeed 
the best form of conversation." 

Do we actually fail to perceive the audac- 
ity of the menace implied? The mere in- 
decorousness of naked sincerity is the least 
of the evils that telepathy will let loose upon 
us. Courtesy could not exist in a world where 
people perfectly understood each other. Our 
manners are none too good as it is, but how 
the beast and the boor in all of us would 
break forth if never controlled by the effort 
to appear more polite than we feci! If the 
thoughts, for example, of guest and host were 
utterly undressed, the one before the other, 
how long would the gentle amenities of hos- 
pitality survive.' Who would have the courage 
to go to a dinner if he had to endure the 
clatter of people's thoughts about him pound- 

63 



k 



p 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

ing their way into his brain? Yet in the 
passage just quoted telepathy is actually 
advocated as a practice to be encouraged! 
Fortunately most of us are still so clumsy at 
it that we are not ready to forego the use of 
the tongue when we wish to speak; yet at 
times we are so shortsighted as to deprecate 
the use of words. Let us, rather, cheerfully 
continue not to understand each other, mind- 
ful how much worse off we should be if we 
did understand. 

Although telepathy has not yet come into 
popular social usage, we occasionally meet 
people not ashamed to exhibit it as an ac- 
complishment. Such people are most dis- 
couraging to conversation. When a person 
knows what we are going to say before we 
say it, the effort of expression seems futile; 
the racy epithet, the felicitous phrase go un- 
spoken. There would presently be no bons- 
mols to be quoted ; life would not be enlivened 
by the twinkling passage of repartee, that 
light rebound of thought and word, striking 
against surfaces they cannot pierce. When 
there are no walls for talk to knock against, 
and no gates to be opened or shut to other 
people's penetration, the art of conversation 
will die, and social intercourse be reduced to 
a fatuous smirking at each other's faces — or 

64 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

perhaps to a fierce clawing of them, when the 
thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed. 

The universal employment of telepathic 
communication would do away with another 
prerogative of society, the right to gossip. In 
our present imperfect means of knowledge, 
everybody presents a different aspect to 
everybody else. To gossip is to bring forward 
for discussion all the data each observer has 
gathered; it is a comparison of various angles 
of misunderstanding tending to diffuse un- 
enlightenment and thus to protect the person 
under examination from an intrusively ac- 
curate analysis. Now, if hia soul were pre- 
sented in the same crystalline fidelity to each 
of us, he himself would neither enjoy privacy 
of spirit, nor we our game of guessing. 

If telepathy were once established as being 
what its advocates claim, "the best form of 
conversation," several established arts, sev- 
eral enjoyable diversions, would fall into im- 
mediate desuetude. Novels and plays would 
cease to be written. Romance and drama are 
constructed on the assumption that we can 
never really know one another's thoughts, 
combined with the illusion that we can if we 
try. We go to the play, we go to the book, 
because we delight to observe the infinite per- 
mutations and combinations of impact arising 

6s 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

from the truth that people cannot read each 
other's purposes. If the puppets on the stage 
— the playhouse stage and the world stage 
equally — all knew each other's intentions, 
there would immediately result, for the ac- 
tors, the paralysis of the plot, and for the 
audience, all the boredom of omniscience. It 
is because none of us can tell where other 
people want to go that we bump into them 
Telepathy would introduce the possibility of 
precaution and thus deprive life of its chief 
stimulus, unforeseen contact. What we enjoy 
in a novel Is seeing how the author is going 
to steer his characters to their goal when they 
are continually being shoved away from it by 
collisions. In a wretched Utopia, where every- 
body understood everybody else, there would 
be no fun in either reading or writing, and 
literature would languish and disappear. 

What keeps life going is that it keeps i 
guessing. Our pet vanity is our power to 
divine character. Human idiosyncrasies are 
a mystery forever alluring and forever elud- 
ing. Now telepathy proposes to come in and 
reform all this, proposes to teach us how to 
read souls as easily as spelling-books. Science 
has the effrontery to present the innovation 
as ushering In a millennium. I have no desire 
to go marching Into a privacy that bewitches 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

me with invitation so long as I merely peep. 
Suppose I should find only dust and emptiness 
in rooms now magic with surmise! 

I have shown how a system of telepathic 
communication would disrupt our social life 
and destroy the literature constructed to re- 
flect that life. There are, however, two darker 
and deeper dangers incident to letting every- 
body use the aerial apparatus. If the intro- 
duction of telepathy would undermine social 
intercourse, it would absolutely annul soli- 
tude. The wings of the dove could never out- 
distance the impudent wings of the wireless. 
Anybody who wished could send his thoughts 
forth to investigate anybody else's nest in the 
wilderness. Privacy would rapidly become a 
prehistoric privilege. Solitude is the chief 
support of the affections: it would be impos- 
sible to love your fellow man if you knew you 
could never get away from him. 

Last and most painful peril of all: it is not 
only my own and my neighbor's retirement 
that I would preserve impenetrable to mu- 
tual invasion: but there are other regions I 
do not wish to enter with any clear certainty, 
the skyward chambers of my own high tower 
of secrecy, where I sometimes entertain a 
mysterious visitor. If telepathy taught me 
the language of the spirit, I might inadvcrt- 

67 



THE PERILS OF TELEPATHY 

ently learn to understand my own. Let not 
science be so sacrilegious. When I loaf and 
invite my own soul, I want the guest to come 
to me without any telepathic eavesdropping 
on the part of other people, and without any 
profaning analysis on my own part. Let no 
telepathy interrupt my communing with that 
august presence, my own souL 



FAMILY PHRASES 

ALL lucky families own, cherished on some 
hidden closet shelf, a patchwork quilt. 
It is a homely possession, but a warm one. 
The old coverlid is never in constant use, but 
without it the catalogue of the household 
bedding would be incomplete; it is a reference 
quilt, as it were. It is brought forth only when 
more common and purchasable coverings are 
insufficient against the creeping cold and 
gusty draught pressing into firelit rooms from 
the bleak night beyond the home windows. 
Then one draws the old comfortable cozily 
about one's shoulders, its touch as trust- 
worthy as that of fond liands familiar to one's 
childhood. A patchwork quilt is sacred to the 
family. We provide the guest-bed with such 
paddings against chill aa may be had at any 
department store; yet if a guest is near and 
dear enough we may sometimes show him our 
family quilt. 

The appearance of the familiar patchwork 
is always occasion for reminiscence. Its colors 
grow brighter with age in contrast with the 
more perishable shades of the present, for the 
dyes are often of home manufacture, trans- 
69 



FAMILY PHRASES 

mitted in formula not to be duplicated in any 
market, 

The fun of the time-worn coverlid is !n the 
suggestion inherent in each garnered scrap. 
Every bit of cloth evolves some chapter of 
family chronicle, each is a snip from some 
member's biography as expressed in the clothes 
he wore. Some few pieces were cut from the 
garments of our ancestors, enduring in tints 
as vivid as were the characters of the grand- 
fathers and grandmothers who possessed those 
gay costumes of the long ago. Scraps of their 
debonair satins and brocades still star our 
pieced mosaic, bits of their homespun save 
it from flimsiness. Again some inch or two of 
flowered fabric may reproduce not only char- 
acter, but circumstance, the exact sensations 
belonging to Belle's eighth birthday; or a 
morsel of check may recall the roaring farce 
of Ben's first long trousers. A patchwork quilt 
is a domestic record where we can always 
read history that would otherwise slip away; 
the dove gray of the grandmother's bridal 
gown, the shimmering amethyst of Mary's 
first decollete, the sturdy blue of Tom's baby 
kilts — all these scraps restore to us the 
selves we had forgotten, 

An actual patchwork quilt in its cozy home- 
liness is closely comparable to another pos- 
70 



FAMILY PHRASES 

session to be found on the treasure shelves of 
every family with fun enough in its make-up 
to manufacture its own protection against 
life's wild weather. Every such family has its 
medley of phrases, richly colored and signifi- 
cant to the family ear, a patterned fabric al- 
ways ready for family reference, and some- 
times exhibited to friendship's discernment. 
Each true home has through its long years of 
association evolved its own design for com- 
bining its variegated personalities into a warm 
and whimsical barrier against a cold world 
beyond the windows. As the flashing scarlet 
or brave green of some snip of cloth can 
evoke all a forgotten costume, so in the pat- 
terned patchwork of a family's individuality 
will certain treasured remarks flash forth the 
whole character of some member, or repro- 
duce some delicious incident of our archives. 
We grow unfailingly merry when we review 
our motley web of family phrases. Gladly we 
share their subtleties with any guest who is 
close enough to understand, or, not infre- 
quently, borrow some striking quip from his 
store, as in the good old patchwork days 
neighborly families used to dip into each 
other's piece-bags. 

Perhaps it Is in a country rectory that a 
patchwork quilt has an especial value. In a 

71 



FAMILY PHRASES 

household frankly vowed to poverty there 
can be little recourse to the luxury of custom- 
made paddings against fate. Furthermore, we 
of a country rectory must keep our patch- 
work quilt in such constant use that we can 
never forget the peculiar pattern of our family 
coziness, and also we must stitch our cheer so 
firmly that both its color and its warmth shall 
endure against the wear and tear of itiner- 
ancy. If I point out a few significant patches 
in one such family quilt, if to a friendly ear 
I explain the connotation of some salient 
phrases, it should be remembered that the 
dyes of our humor are of a formula common 
in ministerial homes. 

I was some eight years old when I became 
familiar with a saying continually heard on 
the paternal lips. It was an expression that 
would be characterized by Latin grammars 
as a "condition contrary to fact," for the 
rector prefaced and concluded every dream 
of serviceability with seven words of iterated 
longing, "If I were a bag of beans!" Lest such 
a metamorphosis might appear a bizarre req- 
uisite for a minister of God, let me explain 
that the meaning can best be apprehended if 
the reader will pinch his nostrils tightly and 
then try to say, "If I were a man of means," 
for it was in this more intelligible form that 



FAMILY PHRASES 

my father's yearning was originally expressed. 
A severe cold in the head one day occasioned 
the accidental change of the consonants. That 
my father ever afterwards voluntarily adopted 
the alteration was characteristic of one capa- 
ble of whimsical appreciation of his own wist- 
fulness. Yet with what sincerity of impotent 
desire he would cry, "If I were a bag of 
beans!" "If I were a bag of beans!" — and 
then would follow the outline of some vision 
for his parish, some plan for its advancement, 
so Utopian as to leave his practical family 
aghast with unbreathed gratitude that he 
was not "a bag of beans !" With what kindly 
coercion of philanthropy he would have en- 
forced righteousness upon his flock! Conse- 
crated himself to penury, he still, like many 
another clergyman, believed that money 
might have mended sinful hearts if only he 
could have employed it in the holy wizardry 
of devotion. It is a common enough mistake 
to believe that, if only we had the material 
means, we could somehow force people to be 
good by some other method than that sole 
permitted one of example. The rector never 
became a man of means, he never realized his 
dreams of benefaction. That which he did 
accomplish he never knew. If tonday some- 
times he watches with the old imperishable 
73 



FAMILY PHRASES 

twinkle from some far place where the stars, 
too, twinkle with imperishable tenderness, 
does he see at last what deep harm he might 
have wrought where most he yearned to help, 
if he had ever been allowed to have his wish 
for riches i"' If I were a bagof beans"; through 
some strange fusion of laughter and tears, 
that phrase gleams in the family vocabulary, 
as holy and as vivid as a tiny piece cut from 
a high priest's robe. Is it permitted at last to 
one who thought his life futile to perceive that 
it is perhaps because his soul was never ex- 
posed to that money-mastery over his fellows 
which is the subtle temptation^ of the phi- 
lanthropist, that to-day, for all permitted to 
have been his people, his memory shines un- 
sullied as some richly illumined window on 
which is designed the figure of the Great Poor 
Man, his closest Friend? 

Out from childhood's far past there gazes 
the earnest little face of one who is her father's 
daughter. Benefaction was from the first as 
instinctive with her as with him. It was at the 
early age of five that she enriched our phrase 
collection with a sentence suggestive of one 
of the little ironies of philanthropic impulse. 
One penny was the amount allowed us for 
the purchase of candy, the meticulous sharing 
of which with each other was a primary moral 



74 



d 



FAMILY PHRASES 

law. Now for one cent you could buy four 
large and succulent chocolate drops, one for 
mother, one for sister, one for brother, one for 
self. The father was strangely impervious to 
sweets, and besides he dwelt always in a mys- 
teriously sacred room called The Study, into 
which our frivolous family life dared not pene- 
trate except when the youngest, bold in baby 
prerogatives, pressed bravely in to demand a 
kiss. One day this youngest, a little Lady 
Bountiful with a penny in her palm, set forth, 
to return laden down with four precious bon- 
bons. Duly she distributed, one, two, three, 
but held on to her own portion, while re- 
flectively watching the consumption of the 
others. How much better her chocolate drop 
would taste to her own tongue, she was think- 
ing, if she offered it first to her father in hia 
incarceration. Generous impulse bore her into 
The Study, only to emerge in a moment, the 
most crestfallen of curly-heads, with eyes in 
which her father's own twinkle struggled 
against tears, and lips that hesitated between 
a laugh and a sob, as she tragically announced, 
"But he put it in his mouth, and ate it all 
up!" The mere fact that when the mother's 
account broke in abruptly upon the rector's 
absorption, he instantly interrupted his ser- 
mon to escort a dancing sprite to the candy 
75 



'fAMlLY PHRASES 

emporium, whence she returned with a whole 
wanton pound of chocolates, is neither here 
nor there; that conclusion of the episode has 
nothing to do with the meaning we have ever 
since attached to the words, "He put it in his 
mouth, and ate it all up!" — for it is signifi- 
cant, is it not, of much proffered generosity? 
There is a glow in offering what we are con- 
fident will not be taken, and when perchance 
our gift is gulped down contrary to our ex- 
pectations, we do not all accept our just de- 
serts with the gallant humor with which my 
small sister took her discomfiture. I know a 
charming woman who confesses to a peculiar 
form of self-indulgence, to a species of phi- 
lanthropy in which she frankly enjoys her 
cake and eats it, too. Periodically she makes 
her will, giving generously to this and that 
poor relation, to this and that good cause. 
She spends many a happy hour in contempla- 
tion of the merry document; then she folds 
it up, and returns briskly to the business of 
her days — for she is in her prime, enjoying 
the best of life and of riches, neither of which 
she would sacrifice except in imagination. My 
friend, you observe, is cautious with her 
chocolate drop, but the rest of us are not all, 
or not always, so canny as she in protecting 
ourselves against our own kindly instincts. 

It 



How many times we press invitations, we offer 
services, we hold out gifts which we never ex- 
pect to materialize, but which warm our own 
hearts curiously! The best that we can ask 
for is to be good sports when, haply, he does 
"put it in his mouth, and eat it all up." 

To the patchwork of our phrase-quilt the 
same sister has contributed another scrap, 
equally revelatory of the little girl she used 
to be. On certain days, to us full of desolate 
bewilderment, the mother's door would be 
tight shut while she struggled with tonsillitis. 
Then a small watcher would crouch upon the 
sill, across which she once slipped a tiny note 
in loving and laborious print. "Dear Mam- 
ma," it read, "1 am sorry you are sick. I wish 
everybody was always well." It is a little 
patch of tender blue, that childish wish, and 
one that each of us must many a time echo 
in the same impotent sympathy. What sud- 
den simplification of world sorrows, which 
we watch in puzzled distress, if only "every- 
body was always well!" 

Snips from another child character blend 
with the sister's. The brother was, however, 
a small person more chary of his idealism. 
From his Infant years he faced the facts of 
human handicap and the realities of circum- 
stance with a clear-sighted detachment, as is 
77 



FAMILY PHRASES 

proved by his early acceptance of the relation 

between bricks and straw. Every human be- 
ing at some time in his history is exposed to 
the temptations of poultry-raising. My broth- 
er's attack came when he was twelve, and 
he has been immune ever since. His earliest 
obstacle was the lack of a chicken-pen. My 
mother met his difficulty with frank oppro- 
brium — "If you had any gumption you'd 
make a chicken-pen!" The youngster gazed at 
her with the same withering glance a bold He- 
brew might have employed toward an Egyp- 
tian overseer. "Gumption!" he exclaimed. 
"It's not gumption I need, it's boards!" 

Another characteristic protest dates from 
my brother's much earlier years. To him 
books — real books, the Britannica, Ma- 
caulay's History, Webster's Unabridged — 
were a kingdom reluctantly relinquished for 
the pettiness of primers, and his royal in- 
timacy with Arthur and Charlemagne was 
distinctly superior to the promiscuity of the 
unwashed primary school. Rural needs 
crowded a dozen small boys on a bench at a 
recitation. A harried teacher rebuked my 
brother for appropriating too much seat- 
room. He faced his accuser with calm honesty, 
announcing, "I prefer to leave a little space 
between." 

78 



FAMILY PHRASES 

Often enough that statement of prefer- 
ences occurs to our minds and to our lips as 
we shiver involuntarily before the morning's 
headlines, for it is explanatory of much that 
threatens our security to-day. Strange seat- 
mates shove upon us, and look darkly on our 
shrinking. In the public school of democracy 
we are still only in the primary room. During 
five tragic years we have read many a portent 
for ourselves in our efforts to maintain that 
"little space between." Like many another 
gentleman and scholar ray brother has lately 
learned the profound lesson of soldier contact 
in a great and selfless cause. They have come 
back, our men, we know, careless of many old 
conventions, careful of many new convictions, 
not least of these, perhaps, since they have 
seen close by the courage and the beauty of 
men they once scorned as humble, that it 
will be their own loss if ever again they "pre- 
fer to leave a little space between." 

Among our varied phrases there are bits of 
a forgotten past, still bright with the per- 
sonality of the ancestor that first gave them 
utterance. Some of these bits date back to an 
alien economic era. To a visitor who hears our 
not infrequent rebuke to some grasping im- 
pulse — "John, John, thee's had thy egg" — 
is due its origin. There was once a Quaker 
79 



FAMILY PHRASES 

grandsire who was, in his so different day, a 
steel magnate; that is, he was a master-maker 
of scythes. He had his apprentice, who shared 
the family table, but not, as he was made to 
understand, all its privileges. The grand- 
father was rich in fertile acres and in the fame 
of his scythes, and food was abundant, so 
that members of the household might in- 
dulge not alone in one egg, but in two, or 
even more — at least so runs the now un- 
believable legend of their plenty. It was not 
strange that the young prentice, seated there 
among the rest, should once have put forth 
his hand to take a second helping, only to be 
barred by the master's weighted words — 
"John, John, thee's had thy egg!" What 
strange reversal of position between our time 
and that distant decade when Capital and 
Labor still ate from the same dish, however 
disparate their allotted portions. To-day it 
is from outside the window that Labor thrusts 
in a grim hand, sternly rebuking the master- 
magnates with its "John, John, thee's had 
thy egg!" 

Patches have enriched our family quilt 
from other sources than mere kinship. On 
sundry occasions vigorous souls have shared 
our domicile and have contributed lasting im- 
pressions to the pattern of our domesticity. 
80 



-FAMILY PHRASES 

Ebony Sarah was one of these. Cooks are 
often natural philosophers, especially black 
ones, but few cooks expend more reflection 
upon the cosmos than did Sarah, Unable as 
she was either to read or write, her words 
were worthy of attention. As good Anglicans, 
we are, of course, shy of any personal allu- 
sion to the Deity as somehow unseemly, but 
Sarah, as a sturdy African Methodist, has no 
Buch compunction. God is none too haughty 
a personage to frequent her kitchen and her 
conversation. Sarah's religion is akin to that 
of the solon who lately abashed the Senate 
chamber by announcing that he did not 
"favor saddling the Almighty with all the 
sins of man." Various bits of Sarah's phi- 
IcBophy had from time to time arrested the 
smooth course of our more conventional 
creed and practice when one day she was in- 
spired to cram the very pith of her theology 
into a single sentence. The subject was the 
War, at that stage when we were still trying 
to explain it. "I'm not one," said Sarah, 
"that blames God for this war. It's not his 
fault, it's folks's"; and then abruptly she 
achieved genius — "Poor God gets every- 
thing blamed on Him!" 

To review the borrowed phrases which help 
to compose the motley of our household 
8j 



k 



FAMILY PHRASES 

patchwork would be perhaps to plagiarize. 
To each family its own phrases and the design 
into which they are stitched, but our own 
worn coverlid would lose some of its color if I 
did not point to a bright scrap recently added. 
Not many years ago a tiny fairy girl was 
blown into a friend's window from out the 
peopled Nowhere. Her merest prattle is pure 
poetry, her eyes are a sea-sprite's, and the 
little sandaled feet of her keep the tune of 
an elfin song. Her beauty dances, glances, 
through our dull rooms and ageing hearts. 
Life for her shall never stale to prose, for she 
has already vowed herself to beauty in ex- 
plicit words comprising a tiny bit of cloth 
of gold among our more somber pieces. Of 
course, since she is earth-born, people must 
teach her hands little tasks. They set her 
once to place the plates and spoons, but there 
ensued silence in the dining-room. 

"Are you setting the table?" called her 
mother's voice. 

"I am going to," the sprite replied, "but 
I must make something pretty first," 

Perhaps for our own delight we may afford 
always to let her "make something pretty 
first," seeing that possibly the angels, when 
commanded to manufacture yet another 
prose-paced human being, were beguiled to 



S2 



FAMILY PHRASES 

evolve the gold hair and golden grace of her, 
pleading with the Master-Creator that they 
"must make something pretty first." 

There is many another scrap that might 
be pointed out in our family patchwork, but 
even this brief exhibit may serve the purpose 
of making others draw forth and examine 
their own precious coverlid, for, however 
deeply concealed from their conscious appre- 
ciation, most families possess a family quilt. 
A patterned family life may perhaps appear 
to have become obsolete, but on the hidden 
heirloom shelves is it not always to be found 
in any chill emergency? When the night turns 
suddenly sharp, we do not send to a neighbor's 
to borrow his type of warmth nor do we call 
upon a department store for any ready-made 
comfort — we go to the treasure closet, and 
bring out once again our dependable old 
coverlid, merry with blended personaUties, 
warm with stored affection. The whimsical- 
ities of our garnered family phrases are sym- 
bols clipped from indestructible fabrics. The 
fused colors, the persistent pattern, the cozy, 
enduring padding make a warm protection 
against fate which is something to thank 
God for, that same God, Who, far from being 
praised for the priceless commonplace, too 
often "gets everything blamed on Him." 




HOLD IZZY! 

MOST households have their private 
dictionary of terms rich in connota- 
tion for the family ear, but needing explana- 
tion to outsiders. The full flavor of such a 
term comes partly from the dramatic pun- 
gency of the circumstance that christened it, 
and partly from the symbolism with which 
the expression may be ever afterwards em- 
ployed to enliven and illuminate similar inci- 
dents. I know a home where the words "Hold 
Izzy" mean much when used to characterize 
Bome sudden responsibility. Explanation is 
appreciatively delivered by the lady of the 
house, -a woman as graphic in narrating ex- 
perience as she is intrepid in meeting it. An 
over-hurried morning once demanded her 
matching some silk at a village emporium 
personally conducted by its owner, a gentle- 
man of Jewish extraction. It was the custom, 
when business called hira from the counter, 
that his wife should slip in from the rear 
quarters to take his place; correspondingly, 
when her affairs took her away, the husband 
became her kitchen cr nursery substitute. It 
was on one of these latter occasions that my 

84 



HOLD IZZY! 

friend entered with her breathless demand. 
Shirt-sleeved and puffing a fat cigar, the pro- 
prietor gazed back at her across the counter, 
eager, obsequious, but helpless, for he carried 
in his arms his infant son, a large and lusty- 
babe, too old not to roll if put down, too young 
to sit up. Utterly unconscious of obstructing 
trade, the child lay in his father's embrace, 
fat, unblinking, and engrossed in sucking his 
thumb, oblivious alike to his father's diffi- 
culty and the customer's inconvenience. The 
devoted parent cast despairing eyes at shelf 
and counter and floor, but saw no secure rest- 
ing-place for his burden. The moment was 
urgent, imperative; the father bent impul- 
sively forward, beaming relief: "Hold Izzy!" 
he said. 

In recounting her sensations of the next 
twenty minutes, my friend is always pe- 
culiarly analytic and circumstantial. Surprise 
was her first emotion — one moment bowl- 
ing along in her motor, unaware there was an 
"Izzy" in the world, the next moment called 
upon to be the sole depository for an armful 
of Hebrew baby, her entire mind, her entire 
muscle taut with the task of not spilling him! 
She notes particularly the instant absorption 
required of her to meet a responsibility totally 
alien to her training, her immediate circum- 
8s 




HOLD IZZY! 

stances, her volition, but unescapable. She 
recalls dreamily and distractedly striving to 
match silks across the redundant and indif- 
ferent form of Izzy, and trancedly trying to 
attend to the duty for which she had entered 
the store, as being still necessary in spite of 
the duty for which she had not entered it, 
by mere instinct thus endeavoring to keep to 
the course of her own existence, though so 
abruptly entangled in Izzy's. 

She remembers also her boundless sym- 
pathy for Izzy's father, her sense of his utter 
impotence supposing she had not held Izzy, 
her responsive thrill to the faith with which, 
although he had never before laid eyes on her, 
he leaned over the counter and deposited in 
her automatically extended arms, his son and 
heir. She is too penetrating to take unction to 
herself for his confidence, she knows that 
there are moments when the most cynical of 
us are forced to trust others. Lastly she re- 
calls most vividly the serenity of Izzy him- 
self, impenetrable to any consciousness of 
being an inconvenience, his exquisite self-ab- 
sorption, his lofty unconcern as to who held 
him, so long as he was held, matching his 
faith that all his life he would be tended, while 
all he had to do was to lie and suck his thumb. 

We have all of us at some time held some- 
86 



HOLD IZZYI 

body's Izzy, we have all of us at some time 
had to have our Izzy held. The Izzy relation 
between any two people is an instance of the 
purely involuntary bearing of another's bur- 
den, or the equally involuntary dumping of 
our own. Five minutes before the occurrence 
we could not have prophesied either predica- 
ment, but there we are! We can all of us cite 
illustration from experience. The essence of 
an Izzy emergency is not its seriousness, but 
its intensity. As a humble instance, one is 
bound, say, on an errand only less momen- 
tous than life and death, which requires one's 
reaching the end of the trolley line in half an 
hour. Suddenly one discovers one's purse left 
at home ! With what mendicant sharpness one 
studies the faces of one's fellow passengers! 
Yet it rarely happens that there is not some 
one to spring instant to meet a stranger's ex- 
igency signified by the small but supreme 
need of a nickel. 

Holding Izzy is an experience often more 
enjoyed in the telling than at the time. It is 
likely to be too engrossing for humor, but few 
of us would be cheated of the mirth that 
shines on it in retrospect. Travel is particu- 
larly fruitful in Izzy incidents. For example, 
behold ourself seated in our chair, the light 
from the car window falling just right upon 

87 



HOLD IZZY! 

our novel, the footstool fixed to our liking, 
when in hurtles a breathless friend, gasping 
good-byes to a guest instantly pressed upon 
us to care for and comfort through all the long 
hours between departure and destination. 
Perhaps the stranger is a fidgety old lady 
continually popping forth frantic inquiries at 
the scurrying porter. Perhaps it is a garrulous 
old gentleman who genially thunders confi- 
dences in our unwilling ears, while neighbor- 
ing chairs twinkle behind newspapers. A mo- 
ment before, we were free as the wind on its 
wanderings; forthwith we are introduced to 
unheard-of intricacies of baggage for our po- 
lite disentangling, and must be prepared for 
all manner of emergency upon arrival, in the 
event of impossible connections, and expected 
relatives who fail to appear with their wel- 
come. The problems of the chance acquaint- 
ance entrusted to our attention on a journey 
present a perplexity I have never known to 
befall any other class of travelers. 

Holding Izzy is often as complicated for the 
holder as it is simple for Izzy himself. Of 
course, according to strict definition and ex- 
planation, Izzy is not necessarily a person; 
only, according to the nature of humanity, 
Izzy is often very personal indeed. There are 
men and women created to be Izzics all their 



I 



HOLD IZZY! 

lives, and never to guess it. People hand them 
back and forth across the counter of social 
commerce, because they could not get any- 
thing done themselves if they did not thus 
take turns in holding Izzy. Other persons may 
be harried by Izzy's problems; Izzy himself 
sucks his thumb, blindly, beautifully, un- 
aware. Somebody always has taken care of 
him, somebody always will take care of him. 
He is created to call forth philanthropy in 
others, himself fatly cushioned in compla- 
cence. He does not know enough of what goes 
on about him to be either critical or grateful. 
He is merely himself, Izzy. 

Some people are foreordained to hold Izzy. 
Some people are foreordained to have their 
Izzy held. I have held Izzy, I have had my 
Izzy held for me: but, I am wondering: Have 
I ever been Izzy myself? 



ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

IT is strange how persistently one is dogged 
and tracked down by one's dreams. A 
dream is the toughest of Hving things. I my- 
self have been hounded through life by an 
ideal. As an infant I burned with a spirit of 
adoption, expansive, indiscriminate, imper- 
sonal; white I was still of years to be myself 
coddled and kissed, curled, cribbed, scoured, 
and spanked, I imaged myself the mother of 
an orphan asylum. Still uncertain in speech, 
I lisped lullabies to armfuls of babies, of 
every size, sex, and condition. The babies 
were delivered at my door by packet, singly 
and by the dozen, in all degrees of filth, abuse, 
and emaciation. Vigorously I tubbed them, 
fed them, bedded them, patted them, or 
paddywhacked them, just as my maternal 
conscience demanded. Oh, it was a brave In- 
stitution, that orphan asylum of mine; it sol- 
aced my waking hours, and at night I fell 
asleep sucking the thumb of philanthropy. 

The orphan asylum lasted into my teens, 

and then it contracted, restricted itself in the 

sex and number to be admitted; but the spirit 

of things was much the same ; for he was to be 

90 



ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

lonely and abused, world-worn and weary, 
and twenty-nine or thirty, periiaps. Gladly 
would he seek refuge for his battered head on 
the wise and wifely bosom of sixteen. But he 
did n't. The brisk little years came trudging 
along, and they carried him and my six- 
teenth birthday far and far away, but still 
the world, for all of me, was unadopted. 
Then the orphan asylum came sneaking back 
again, but this time it was only one — one 
baby. Why could not I, I asked myself, when 
the days of my spinsterhood should be grown 
less busy, pick up a bit of a boy- or girl-thing, 
and run off with it, and have it for my own, 
somewhere in the house where Joy lives? 

Then, while I dreamed of these things, I 
heard a little noise outside, and there at my 
door sat two waifs and strays whom fate and 
fortune had tossed and buffeted until they 
were forespent. I lifted up the hat of the one, 
and I undid the blessed bonnet-strings of 
the other, and lo, it was my parents; and here 
was my orphan asylum at last, fallen on my 
very doorstep! 

Only consider how much better fortune had 
done for me than I should have done for my- 
self! How much better than adopting an un- 
limited orphan asylum, a stray foundling, or a 
spouse "so outwearied, so foredone," as the 
91 



ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

one previously mentioned, was it to find my- 
self in a twinkling the proud possessor of a 
lusty brace of parents between whom and 
the world I stand as natural protector! Here; 
is adoption enough for me. My orphan asy- 
lum, my foundling, my husband, might have 
been to me for shame and undoing. The 
asylum might have gone on a mutiny; the 
foundling might have broken out all over in 
hereditary tendencies; for the choice flowers 
of English speech in which I should have 
sought to instruct its infant tongue, the 
vicious suckling might have returned me 
profanity and spontaneous billingsgate; it 
might, too, have been vulgar, tending to sneak 
into corners and chew gum. These are not 
things I have reason to expect of my parents. 
As for a man — a living, eating, smoking 
man — I need not enlarge on the temerity of 
a woman who would voluntarily adopt into 
a well-regulated heart a totally unexplored 
busband. 

No; if a woman will adopt, parents are the 
best material for the purpose. They will not 
be insubordinate; from the days when from 
the vantage of my high chair I clamored 
sharply with my spoon for attention, and re- 
ceived it, have they not been carefully trained 
in the docility befitting all good American 
9? 



I 



I 



ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

parents? Nor, being in their safe and sober 
sixties, are they likely to blossom into naugh- 
tinesses, large or small, bo that the folk will 
shoot out their lorgnettes at me, sneering, 
"Pray is this the best you can do in the way 
of imparting a bringing-up?" — And how 
much better than an adopted husband are an 
adopted father and mother! They will not go 
about tapping cigar ashes over my maidenly 
prejudices; they will tread gingerly and not 
make a horrid mess of my very best emotions. 
Yes; to all ladies about to adopt, I recom- 
mend parents. 

I warn you, however, that you must go 
about your adopting pretty cautiously. It is 
never the desire of the genuinely adoptive to 
inspire awe, atiil less gratitude. The parent 
becomes shy under adoption; at first he re- 
coiled from my fire that warmed him, and she 
held back from my board that fed her. They 
flagrantly declared that they wanted to go 
home — their own home, the home that 
was n't there. But I held on to them, affirm- 
ing that I had caught them, fair prey in a fair 
chase, and never, never would I let them 
escape into any little old den in a great waste 
world that they might have the bad taste to 
prefer. At this they sulked, courteously, re- 
signedly. Worst of all, they looked at me with 
93 




ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

the strange eyes with which one regards that 
alien to all men, a benefactor. The adopter 
must be patient — waiting, showing slowly 
how shabby it is of parents, when their chil- 
dren give them bread, to give them in return 
that stone, gratitude. 

Thus, after a while, the parents will find 
themselves growing warm and well-fed and 
cozy and comfortable, and they will begin to 
put forth little shoots of sprightUness and 
glee. Instead of concealing their shabby feet 
under petticoats and desks and tables, out 
will come the tattered seam and worn sole, 
and, "Shoe me, child!" the parent will cry. 
Or, when one goes tripping and comes home 
again, the parents will come swarming about 
one's pockets and one's portmanteau demand- 
ing, "What have you brought me, daughter?" 
These are the things the adopter was waiting 
and watching for, and wanting. 

Thus my dreams have come true, my ideal 
has found me. In the streets and on the trol- 
leys of the world I am no longer a stranger. 
"Allow me, sir, my turn at the car-strap, 
none of your airs with me, if you please; de- 
spite petticoats, I, too, am a family man. I 
am none of your lonely ones; I, also, belong 
to a latch-key, have mouths to feed, have 
little ones at home." At the sound of my key 
94 



I 



ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

they will fly down the stairs, fall upon and 
welcome me in to my hearth and my slippers, 
and together in the fire-glow, the parents and 
I shall have our glorious topsy-turvy Chil- 
dren's Hour. 

You, sir, who elbow me going business- 
ward, are you plotting surprises for birthdays 
and Christmas Days and holidays and other 
days? So, too, I. Sometimes a pretty little 
check comes in, not too small nor yet so big 
as to be serious. Then I scamper over the 
house until I find him. The rascal knows 
what's coming. We regard the check right- 
side up first, then over I flip it on its face and 

write, " Pay to the order of ," and by that 

time down he is and deep he Is, among those 
precious book-catalogues previously anno- 
tated, jotting wantonly, like the prodigal 
father Heaven made him. 

Do you, sir, in your pride and fatness, mar- 
shal your brood to the theater? So I, mine. 
And do the eyes of your brood, which is 
young, glow and brighten, twinkle or grow 
dim, as you watch, half so prettily as do those 
of my brood, which is old? Can you, you 
commonplace, sober-going fathers and moth- 
ers of families obtained by the ordinary con- 
ventions of nature, know the fine, aromatic 
flavor of my fun ? 

95 




ON ADOPTING ONE'S PARENTS 

What exhilaration have you known like my 
pride of saying, "Whist you, there, parents 
out in the cold world, in here quick, where 
it is warm, where I am ! in, away from that 
bogey, Old Age, who will catch you if he can 
— and who will catch me, too, before the 
time, if I don't have you to be young forP' 



IN DEFENSE OF WORRY 

IN view of the unjust disrepute of anxiety 
as a form of mental exercise, an examina- 
tion of the many good reasons why we should 
worry is sharply pertinent. 

The best argument for worry is the kind 
of people who tell you not to. Their smooth 
foreheads are likely to suggest a correspond- 
ing internal blankness. It seems as if even 
to themselves they must be savorless, these 
never-worriers. As to achievement, they can 
never reach the highest; they may Jog com- 
placently either on a mediocre level of success 
or may, like Mr. MIcawber, dance nimbly 
along the surface of flat failure, but to attain 
the sure foot that scales the heights one must 
possess a vivid sense of pitfalls. Poor dullards 
of optimism, they miss the zest of that suc- 
cess granted only to those who have worried 
out a course of conduct to meet the most 
pessimistic forecast of the future. 

As a friend the confirmed optimist Is mo- 
notonous. You like a few ups and downs in a 
friend. The never-worrier offers the resilience 
of a punching-bag to the blows dealt him by 
his own life, and a corresponding indifference 

97 



IN DEFENSE OF WORRY 

to the blows dealt him by yours. In order to 
worry well over some one else one has to be 
thoroughly practiced in worrying over one's 
self. We all know that when we want sym- 
pathy we turn to the best worrier we can find, 
knowing that he will take our case right on 
and have a fit over it. When we are choosing 
a comrade, we find the fact that a person has 
denied himself the enriching luxuries of worry 
a positive deterrent. 

Another argument for worry is the kind of 
books that tell you not to. Apart from their 
character, their very popularity furnishes 
cause for profound regret that people desire 
to buy even Joy at wholesale, that they may 
demand even cheerfulness in the terrible tins 
of the ready-made. Such cheerfulness is sadly 
attenuated by the absence of good, meaty 
truth. The only cheer that contains nutriment 
is the kind that you raise in your own garden 
and put up with your own hands, A work that 
can announce itself to the dry-goods counter 
as "The Happy Book" is a book promptly 
shunned by readers who read. Such a book is 
as true to life as a child's book of sketches — 
shapes whose conventional outlines make 
them pass for men and women and wheel- 
barrows, daubed in colors of unshaded radi- 
ance. 



IN DEFENSE OF WORRY* 

The manufacturers of the happy book and 
the happy ending are unhampered by such 
bagatelles as iife and truth and art, and thus 
perhaps their nursery pinks and blues may 
bring joy to all but two perverse classes, the 
writers who yearn to portray life, the readers 
who yearn to have it portrayed. These two 
classes belong, however, to the still larger one 
of worriers-by-conviction. They remember, 
perhaps, a certain passage of inimitable an- 
guish over the casting of a little silver image. 
Why should Cellini have worried over his 
Perseus? Merely because he was Cellini and 
an artist. They remember the sweatings and 
the blood-lettings with which certain books 
have come forth — books not happy, per- 
haps, but for all eternity great, because by 
painting truth they clear our eyes and 
strengthen our wills to manufacture our own 
happiness. 

The worriers-by-conviction know that in 
no department of life is the maxim that con- 
6cience makes cowards of us all so true as in 
the lesthetic. Fear is the beginning of imag- 
ination, and the only kind possible to dull 
minds. It follows that fear is the first step in 
the evolution of appreciation, which finds its 
flower in the creative temperament. All along 
the advance, pessimism, pointing out the 
99 




IN DEFENSE OF WORRY 

shadows, prying into the pitfalls, sharpens 
the sense for values of which true art must 
be composed. The imagination that is able to 
visualize any success worth achieving must 
necessarily be able to visualize failure and to 
quiver beneath the lash of its possibility. The 
artist who does not worry had better instantly 
spur himself to worry over that fact, for 
worry is a fundamental intellectual asset. 

The moral advantages of fever and fret are 
even greater than the mental. Our ancestors 
recognized this fact and provided for it, but 
cur pusillanimous cheerfulness recoils before 
their robust recognition of muscle. Knowing 
the placidity resultant from being unable to 
stand up and fight a good husky Fear on his 
own ground, they created the Fear and the 
ground, calling the one the Devil and the 
other Hell, There used to be a most stimu- 
lating little signboard at the entrance of hell, 
"Who enters here leaves hope behind," but 
many moderns make the depressing amend- 
ment, "There isn't any such *here' to enter." 
In like manner, unconsciously, we pine for 
the good old devil of our forefathers. He used 
to be always hanging around handy for you 
to test your heroism upon him. He was worry 
incarnate, providing the most muscular ex- 
ercise for anybody who wanted to wrestle. 
lOO 



DEFENSE OF WORRY 

The anti-worry campaign denies the useful- 
ness of bugaboos, whereas a really good buga- 
boo is a liberal education. Constant compan- 
ionship with him is a training in imagination, 
in sympathy, in self-dependence, and, last — 
an argument which knocks out from under 
him the strongest support of the optimist — 
in the joy of life. 

Can the non-worrier ever know the hero 
thrill of the hairbreadth rescues we did not 
make when the boat did not go down? Can 
he experience the pride of the economy we did 
not practice when the bank did not fail? Has 
he ever tested the quintessence of relief when 
the best-loved one did not die of the pneu- 
monia she did not have? How can the poor 
optimist ever discover that one actually runs 
faster toward one's desire when the dogs of 
worry are nipping one's heels ? Never the goal 
so alluring, never the pace so fieet, never the 
tingle of achievement so keen, as when one 
perceives the prize threatened. What does he 
know about success, the man who has never 
feared that he might fail? What does he 
know about happiness, anyway, the man who 
believes in being happy all the time? The 
truth is that worry puts a gilt edge of joy on 
everything. 

But worry, to be genuinely educative. 



IN DEFENSE OF WORRY 

should be systematic and not slipshod. The 
worrier should have convictions to meet those 
of the good-cheer propagandist. But in this 
effort after analysis and argument your wor- 
rier must be mindful of one danger. Method 
with melancholy inclines to have the same 
result as the proverbial tear-bottle offered to 
the crying child. In other words, worry is an 
elusive visitor; welcomed and analyzed, she is 
as likely as not to go flying out of the window. 



COURTESIES AND CALORIES 

A WORD of newly acquired Importance 
has a way of shoving us from compla- 
cency with an upstart's aggressiveness. Of 
late I have not been able to make or to re- 
ceive a call in comfort, nor to divert myself 
with the most innocuous magazine, without 
having my conscience bruised by the impact 
of the word calorie. A calorie is in itself merely 
the unit of measurement by which we reckon 
the nutritive value of the food we used to 
assimilate In happy unconcern, but in appli- 
cation the calorie has to me become a term 
symbolic of our new whirlwind campaign for 
efficient eating. 

As I consider some of the methods em- 
ployed, I cannot refrain from pointing out 
some possible results to our manners. In all 
humility let me aver that It Is no supercili- 
ous observation of other people's reactions, 
but a sudden and alarmed realization of my 
own, that has prompted these few words of 
caution. In childhood I remember being ad- 
monished always to leave some portion of 
my food untouched out of consideration for 
a mythical personage known as "Miss Man- 
103 



COURTESIES AND CALORIES 

ners." Has not the reader at some time been 
besought by nurse or parent to "leave some 
for Miss Manners"? When, in spite of being 
thus studiously trained from infancy to mid- 
dle life In table technique, I have lately experi- 
enced, in discovering a dime-sized circlet of 
abandoned gravy on my plate, a sudden over- 
powering impulse to lick it up, combined with 
an equally overpowering conviction that in 
so doing I should be both benefiting some 
Armenian baby and serving my country, it 
seems high time to consider the effect upon 
manners and upon mentality of a too close 
attention to calories. 

While the war on waste is one to which 
every creed may subscribe, my counteractive 
plea for business as usual in the matter of 
alimentation has evidence in its favor. An 
absorption in food values leaves us less energy 
to expend on activities of less material im- 
mediacy. That the popular confidence in the 
connection between low living and high think- 
ing is a fallacy may be proved by a glance at 
the course of human achievement. The peri- 
ods when people have written a great deal, 
discovered a great deal, painted a great deal, 
have also been periods when they ate a great 
deal. That matchless minstrel, Homer, stuffs 
his heroes with beef and mutton in prodigal 

104 



COURTESIES AND CALORIES 

abandon. The fire of Kit Marlowe had for fuel 

"those dainty pies 
Of venison. generous food! 
Dreat as though bold Robin Hood 
Would, with his Maid Marian, 
Sup and browse from horn and can." 

The eloquent appeal of the calorie would 
have been unheeded by some of our most 
ethereal of singers, would have been an appeal 
"dumb to Keats, him even"; for that young 
man, as great a lover as a poet, could write 
from heart-wrung conviction, 

"Love in a hut, with water and a cruBt, 
Is — Love forgive us! — cinders, ashes, dust!" 

Love and literature, most unfortunately 
for present-day arguments, have flourished 
best on an abundant diet. When we look about 
us we perceive that our artistic and literary 
acquaintance are above other men possessed 
by a zest for food, and are obviously more 
productive on a generous fare than on a rig- 
orous one. You may perhaps demonstrate 
the advantage to mentality of a meatless 
regimen by histology; you cannot demon- 
strate it by history; Chaucer and Shakespeare 
belonged to extremely carnivorous eras. 

To science all things are possible, and a 
generation exhaustively informed about cal- 
ories may in the future produce as notable 
IDS 



COURTESIES AND CALORIES 

poets as those of the past, but at present ei 
dence is against this result. Calculating each 
mouthful and studying the course and con- 
duct in digestion is too engrossing to allow 
the free flights of genius. "Look into thy 
heart and write" is sound advice, but "look 
into thy stomach and write" is singularly 
sterile in literary output. 

The calorie is influencing our social rela- 
tions, infecting with its grossly material meth- 
ods the essentially spiritual intercourse be- 
tween friends. It is difficult to be at ease as 
a guest when the table is too conscious of its 
calories. One feels a horrible hesitation In 
measuring one's appetite to a nicety before 
one helps one's self from a dish. When the 
visitor and the hostess are both familiar with 
those long placards of listed per cents by 
which a bean is proved bigger than a beef- 
steak, one is constrained in consuming either 
of these delicacies. When the weekly budget 
is reckoned in calorics, any Indulgence at a 
friend's table, once a compliment to the cui- 
sine, may nowadays be an unkind upsetting 
of a much-meditated ration. Matters are not 
improved when one becomes entertainer in- 
stead of entertained. The calorie is subtle 
symbol of much disintegration of courteous 
Impulses. The spontaneity of an invitation 
io6 



COURTESIES AND CALORIES 

IS threatened when hospitality halts before 
the possible depredation and devastation 
from a guest's appetite. There is for any po- 
tential hostess a temptation concisely stated 
by the familiar rhyme: 



*' Cross-patch, draw the latch. 
Sit by the fire and spin. 
First make a cup 
And drink it up. 
Then call the neighbors in!" 

Weighing in all its possibilities the tyranny 
of H.C.L. over our generous impulses, I shud- 
der to think to what lengths of discourtesy 
the arrogant little calorie may force us. 



BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

MY eastern windows open on a wide 
stretch of sky and a great glory of 
mountains that rise to the second sash. From 
pink dawn to misty purple twilight, all day 
long the mountains display their shifting 
shades of magic. Between me and the moun- 
tains lies the busy, dirty back street. My 
house stands on a bit of a bluff from which I 
overlook the muddy, populous flat, but far 
more than a few rods of muddy road separates 
me from my rearward neighbors. For years 
I have watched their lives, but I do not know 
their names. We know each other by sight, of 
course. They must watch all the industry of 
our back yard — our weeding and watering 
of our garden, our provident garnering and 
canning, our coaxing of hens heedless of Mr. 
Hoover, all our activities with hoe and paint- 
brush. None of this duty-driven energy dis- 
turbs the care-free squalor of the folk down 
below on the mud flats; they merely observe. 
And we — I am afraid their squalor does not 
disturb us, either; we, also, merely observe. 
This is a vast and tragic world, offering us 
drama so pregnant with pity and fear that 
I08 



BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

I wonder if it is really wicked to turn aside 
sometimes from the play of world forces to 
the merry little side-shows still mercifully 
provided? 

My neighbors below are natives of the 
Cumberland, mountain nomads who drift in 
and out from cotton mill and lumber camp 
for a few months' sojourn on the outskirts 
of the city. One humorous fact is that they 
belong to that same class with whom I frat- 
ernize intimately when I climb into the 
heart of these encircling blue heights for a 
summer vacation. Undoubtedly mountain 
people are more picturesque and engaging in 
their original habitat, tucked into log cabins 
hidden in romantic ravines — glistening rho- 
dodendron and pink foam of laurel framing 
their faces, swirl of white mountain water 
at their feet. One loves them off there as one 
loves the other natives of their wildwood, 
gray squirrel or cardinal or wheeling hawk, 
but here they are alien and unromantic — 
raw, dirty humanity, set down on raw, dirty 
clay, unsoftened by great brooding trees. Yet 
I remind myself these are the same folk whose" 
mountain homes I frequent, gathering treas- 
ures of mountain lore. But here in the city 
I do not linger on dirty doorsteps for friendly 
chat. I am afraid of the after-intimacy which 
109 




BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

might prove irksome here. This is not excuse, 
but confession. I suspect that a good many 
people practice democracy when they are off 
on a holiday, but at home follow a more per- 
manent policy of exclusiveness. 

It is surprising how much one may know of 
persons with whom one never talks, whom one 
merely sees and hears. The sounds that rise 
to me from the hollow below have long been 
familiar. At night the lives they express seem 
close enough to touch. Both by night and by 
day emotions in the back street are starkly 
frank. All night long I have heard a girl wail 
for her dead baby, a rhythmic, recurrent cry, 
as ancient as the mountains. We seem much 
nearer each other by night than by day, the 
denizens of the back street and I, they be- 
neath their gaping roofs, and I on my cozy 
sleeping-porch. Often in the winter darkness 
I hear a door opened and the ring of an axe 
on the stillness, for the back street, taking 
no thought for to-morrow, takes no thought 
even for to-night — it chops its wood when 
the small-hour chill demands it, and no sooner. 
Sometimes, but this very rarely, the silence 
rings with drunken shouts and maudlin 
laughter and I know that a "bootlegger" 
has slipped into town from some covert still, 
and has boldly knocked at sleeping doors. 



IIO 



I 



BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

offering his welcome "moonshine." Again I 
sometimes wake on a frosty autumn night to 
a summons that resounds jovially from door 
to door, while hounds bay and boys hurrah as 
the hunters gather to go after 'possum. 

It is strange how little the city is conscious 
of these strangers clinging to its skirts. The 
strangers themselves live, so far as they may, 
exactly the same life they might live in some 
far little settlement in the heart of the moun- 
tains. Just as off there, they adjust their ex- 
istence to the will of the weather. I observe 
them thoughtfully as I watch them give 
themselves up to the sun. Pure basking is 
a privilege most of us have stupidly given 
over to the quadrupeds, but it is a pleasure 
my mountain neighbors still retain in all its 
sybarite perfection, that of "just setting," 
Why be harried by unwashed dishes, un- 
chopped wood, untended garden, when the 
Bun is shining, somnolent and golden? 

It would be unfair to imply that the back 
street never works, for sometimes it does, 
when the stimulus of bright, tonic air is irre- 
sistible. I remember a spontaneous communal 
washing on one merry January morning, when 
the genial thermometer ran blithely up to a 
comfortable seventy, and bare arms twinkled 
at outdoor tubs, and great black cauldrons 




BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

bubbled over leaping flame, and greetings 
and gossip ran from fire to fire, while clothes- 
line and bushes leaped with wind-whipped 
garments of rainbow color — how is it that 
poor people all over the world have such a 
tendency to vivid underwear? From time to 
time clothes bundled themselves indoors to 
be ironed. Chimneys belched blue smoke, and 
a little girl went scurrying about with a 
scorched ironing-board that served home 
after home in turn. It was a merry wash-day, 
ail the merrier for not coming oftener than 
once a two-month and for being socially per- 
formed. The back street has solved the 
weather riddle in a way to command atten- 
tion. It could never have responded so joy- 
ously to that happy day if it had not meekly 
bowed to the black weather preceding and 
sat patiently huddled to the hearth, impris- 
oned by long-continued sleet and sluggish 
chill. Why in the world should only bears 
hibernate? 

In another respect the back street resem- 
bles the beasts of the field or the gypsies of 
the road; it has no household impedimenta. 
It lights its night-way with smoky little lamps; 
it draws its water from the hillside spring in 
a lard pail. A lard pail is about as efficient 
a method as a Danaid's sieve, but neither 



gXCK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

time nor cleanliness is an importunate ele- 
ment in the back street's life as in ours. That 
path to the spring is often romantic, for one 
may be a Rebecca, comely and heart-shatter- 
ing, just as well with a lard pail as with a 
shapely ewer. Love-making down below there 
expresses itself in free-foot gamboling and 
sparkling flirt of water, and in shouts musical 
with mountain melody. 

Curious how much one may know of peo- 
ple whom one merely watches from a window. 
Of course one sometimes draws the wrong 
deduction. For two years I diagnosed a cer- 
tain active youngster as a girl, according to 
her petticoats. I am disconcerted by her re- 
cent blossoming into knickerbockers. Very 
rarely some individual from the muddy hollow 
climbs our hill, knocks at our door. One of 
these was a seedy, vacant-eyed gentleman 
presenting a penciled claim to our charity, 
averring, according to the soiled scrap of 
paper, that he was a widow with seven small 
children. We gently set him straight as to his 
gender, and he went his way, unoffended. 
But the back street rarely begs — that is, 
it asks us for nothing more substantial than 
flowers. Solemnly important little barefoot 
girls sometimes request blossoms for a funeral. 
They never ask anything for the many babies, 
113 




for the blowing-in of a little life out of the 
dark is too casual an occurrence for emphasis. 
Sometimes these little lives are quickly snuffed 
out, and then perhaps a rattling wagon is ob- 
tained and a rickety horse; a woman climbs 
in, and from below her husband hands up 
the little bare grocery box, which she holds 
tenderly on her knees, as they go jogging 
off — I do not know to what unrecorded 
burial. 

Although families drift in and out of hovels 
never painted, never shingled, back-street 
life remains ever the same in its activities, 
and in its profound inactivity. Are they so 
badly off, the back-street neighbors? Babies 
are chubby; young girls spring to beauty, 
straight and supple. True, epidemics scourge 
the muddy flat sometimes, but on the whole 
life runs merrily. The truant officer does not 
seem to bother the youngsters. Kites float up 
with jolly shouts on bright mornings when 
little boys better cleaned and clothed are 
chained to desks. Undoubtedly we leave the 
back street to go its irresponsible way without 
nagging it by city rules of sanitation or edu- 
cation. And what if one is low-souled enough 
to like to watch it just as it is? There is one 
comfort for one's conscience. Perhaps the 
back street also watches us : perhaps our per- 




BACK-STREET PHILOSOPHY 

petual back-yard briskness gets on its nerves, 
as its indolence gets on mine. Perhaps it is 
every now and then shaken by qualms about 
Its duty to its better-street neighbors. Perhaps 
it looks up to our thriving garden while the 
snufF-sticks wag and wonder and mutter, 
"Why coddle hens and water flower-beds and 
paint your steps, while you might so happily 
*just set'?" Perhaps even back-street com- 
placency is prodded by a conscience that 
pricks, saying to itself, "We really ought to 
cross the road and climb the stone steps and 
teach those frenzied workers how to bask." 



APRIL BURIAL 

IT is a gracious privilege, softening the 
anguish of our sorrow, whea we may fold 
away the body of a loved one beneath the sod 
of spring. The April burgeoning eases all grief. 
The golden sun at the edges of the carriage 
curtains afHrnis a golden world beyond the 
black bar that for a few brief hours shuts us 
from life's sweet daylight. Above the stealthy, 
sable-clad movements that lower the casket, 
rings the love-cal! of a robin, and gay little 
winds, blown from some far shrine of tender 
mirth, scatter the grim words "dust to dust" 
among the green branches. In April it is im- 
possible to doubt the holiness of all seed-time. 
Privileged to stand by an open grave on some 
green and golden morning of the blossoming 
year, one is received into the communion of 
the trees, and in that moment knows beyond 
any peradventure that the loneliness to come 
is fraught with some mysterious fruitage. 
April is the month when it is easiest to be- 
lieve the resurrection, and yet all of us whose 
lives have been dedicated to understanding 
the experience that we name loss, know that 
this April reassurance holds true for every 
ii6 



APRIL BURIAL 

day of the year. All grief that is deep enough 
has a generative power that constantly cre- 
ates in us faculties mysteriously buoyant, and 
releases within us unguessed capacities of 
human comradeship. 

We do not often enough examine those 
regions of our soul where it is always April, 
where for every man and woman who is aUve, 
something new is always blossoming into 
being. We always hesitate to visit graves, 
fearing to find those seed-places still raw 
from the planting, and thus fail to discover 
them already green with unexpected promise. 
We do not observe how often spring is ful- 
filled within our own hfe. We are heavy- 
witted with habit, and when once we have 
termed an experience hopeful or painful, 
lucky or sad, we do not perceive that since 
we labeled it, it has changed its nature, and 
is actually producing fruits totally different 
from the name we give it. We bow above some 
spot where a hope lies buried, and do not 
note that already it has sprung up into 
beauty, and is filling our life with fragrance. 
In no experience are we stupider in our ap- 
praisement than in that commonest and sad^- 
dest of all, for always we say of the death of 
loved ones — mother, child, husband — that 
wc have lost them. 

117 



APRIL BURIAL 

Not in those first broken and blinded 
months, but afterward, as the slow years 
round out to fulfillment, is it possible to re- 
trace and review the long path of our loneli- 
ness. Wherein are we different men and 
women from what we might have been had 
they never been lent to us, our beautiful dead? 
Might it not be an April off'ering to stop for 
a little while and remember? 

Was it a child who died? Which of the liv- 
ing daughters seems to-day so close to her 
mother as the little girl who is gone? Grown 
up and busy with their varied lives, it is not 
they, but the other, who comes to slip an 
arm through her mother's in the gloaming. 
A father, growing old, may read in his living 
son's eyes all the truth of his senility, but he 
knows that for the little lad who died at five 
he will always be a very prince of daddies. In 
the physical world love is always threatened 
with severance. We fear the many ways in 
which our children may draw apart from us, 
even while they are still close enough for our 
hands to touch. Sometimes we tremble with 
the apprehension, false or true, that our loved 
ones do not quite believe in us, but how clear 
of purpose and unafraid mothers and fathers 
walk who are conscious always of the un- 
sullied baby confidence of the toddlers taken 
Il8 



APRIL BURIAL 

from them before they had grown old enough 
for any secret distrust. They always under- 
stand us, our children who are dead, and they 
have a strange earthly continuance, due to 
the fact that all our life is consecrated to their 
imagined approval, so that we ourselves give 
their personality a persistence that fate 
denied. 

In analogous manner a parent passed from 
us has sometimes a domination for good that 
cannot be overestimated, A dead mother 
sometimes absorbs into herself all the love- 
liness that we associate with that beautiful 
word, and out of a child's solitude and his 
hunger for an unknown presence is built a 
shrine of motherhood that is a secret refuge 
from all the cruelty of life. We all know men 
and women who speak with splendid pride 
and confidence of the mother they never 
saw. 

The children who have lost fathers in this 
war enter upon a holy heritage. Some actual 
children whom we know through the battle 
memoirs of their fathers are typical of many 
others. Surely Thomas Kettle's "daughter 
Betty" will have a womanhood sacred to 
understanding the immortal sonnet from the 
field, assuring her that 



119 



"We iooh, now with the foolish dead, 
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor, 
But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed 
And for the secret Scripture of the poor." 

Surely there will be for the Httle Vally, son 
of the brilliant young dramatist, Harold 
Chapin, no more precious reading than the 
letter his father wrote to him from the Front. 
May it not be that the home from which a 
father has gone to a soldier's death becomes 
a holy place, a school of heroism for any 
child? Unconsciously the household conduct 
will refer constantly to the desires, the stand- 
ards, of the absent dead. Beautiful memories 
must haunt and hallow every room. Alt bud- 
ding dreams, ail growing ideals, will focus in 
a child's thoughts of his father. No boy ever 
yet forgot a father that died for freedom — 
a living father he might sometimes forget or 
disregard — a father lifted to the perspective 
of heroic sacrifice is a father to dominate every 
thought, every moment. The coming gener- 
ation will follow without faltering where the 
fathers shall forever lead. 

No mother's thoughts ever wander far 
from her dead child; no son is ever so pre- 
occupied that he is not constantly referring 
his purposes to a dead father's sanction. Al- 
ways a confident understanding exists be- 
I20 



APRIL BURIAL 

tween parents and children living and dead. 
But this clear comprehension is equally char- 
acteristic of all other forms of bereavement, 
for always we feel that we understand the dead 
better than the living. And always we are sure 
that our dead understand us. Two causes ex- 
plain this revelation of spirit to spirit, this 
mysterious April flowering of the grave. 

Grief alone gives us leisure to appreciate. 
Our dead are the only people we ever take 
time for. In our daily existence we are so 
hurried and harried by a hundred details, so 
duty-driven that mere loving seems a form of 
self-indulgence. At heart we loved our lost 
ones too well for any great cruelty, any deep 
neglect, but the little things we did not do 
haunt us piteously. Why did we think we 
were too busy for the tiny ways of tenderness ? 

"A kiss would seem so simple. 
So slight a thing a smile." 

We never quite forgive ourselves that we did 

not speak 

"Such words as we deny them 
Only because they live," 

Not until they have passed beyond the hurly- 
burly of earth do we have time to ponder their 
little peculiarities, their quaint whimsies and 
quirked phrases, which, so small, were yet 



April burial 

significant of a spacious kindliness of soul. 
Our petty blindnesses, our petty unkind- 
nesses, would break our hearts if we did not 
feel such vain regret disloyal to those who 
loved us as we loved them. They were once 
human, too; perhaps they, too, remember 
something they are sorry for. One of the 
keenest sensations of grief is that of their 
bright and blithe forgiveness. They seem to 
twinkle at us, and smile and say, "What dif- 
ference does all that nonsense make, now 
that we both understand?" 

If all earth is sacred to planting, if every 
April is the symbol of a sacrament, perhaps 
loneliness itself is a seed ordained to an un- 
guessed fruitage, not alone after our death, 
but here. Human comradeship would be an 
abortive growth if it were subject to the brev- 
ity of physical contact — for its perfecting 
it sometimes needs to be supplemented by 
the leisured evaluation of grief. If we think 
with full honesty of those who have gone 
from us, do we not see how much better we 
know them now than before they went away? 
The years of separation have been a gift to 
us, revealing not merely the immensity of our 
bereavement, but revealing also, as time 
alone could do, the beatitude of our present 
possession. 



Not only time, but also separation, affords 
us opportunity for surer sympathy. We can 
see souls more clearly when they are freed 
from the obscurations of the flesh, their flesh 
and ours. Only by means of removal are we 
able to look upon character cleansed of the 
immediate and lifted into the aspect of the 
eternal. We know that even earthly absence 
is sometimes salutary, the best restorative of 
exhausted intimacy. Despite affection, little 
tricks of gesture weary our eyes, obstinate 
little habits tease our nerves, until the soul 
they hide is wholly concealed by blundering 
body. All these small impacts are forgotten at 
a distance, and spirit shines clear in our ab- 
sent converse, and dominates inalienably the 
harmony of return. Not alone the contact 
that is wearing threadbare is restored by 
periods of remoteness; the most concordant 
association needs sometimes the tonic of 
absence, by which two people, each setting 
forth alone, can make discoveries and win 
trophies to bring back for sharing. 

The separations of life and the separations 
of death are alike curiously educative, not 
alone in new knowledge of those who leave 
us, but in new knowledge of ourselves. We 
did not realize how large a share those others 
had in shaping us. When they were here they 

"3 



APRIL BURIAL 

seemed earth-bound and fallible like our- 
selves, but now we perceive with what high 
motive their every act was illumined, and we 
accord thera the imitation that is one function 
of grief; when we make honest scrutiny of our- 
selves we find that there is no living person 
who exerts upon us such coercive influence 
as do our dead. It may be that we would not 
have heeded their advice so completely if 
it had been spoken, anxiously dinned into 
our ears, perhaps; now, unvoiced, it has 
grown significant with deathless wisdom. Are 
we not often blind to this April blossom of 
bereavement, the mystical high communion 
to which our lives are set? 

The full import of human intercourse is 
not yet declared to us, but the care with 
which comradeship is perfected, sometimes 
by association, sometimes by separation, 
should sting us to high surmise, as seeds in 
earth might tingle to the promise of spring. 

Even in heaviest sorrow we use of our dead 
no harsher word than lost, in itself a term 
instinct with hope. We say that we have lost 
them, but not that they have lost anything, 
for no matter what creed we hold, we never 
picture them as sad. What is lost is not de- 
stroyed, does not part with its identity, and 
may at any time be restored to us. That de- 
124 



APRIL BURIAL 

spair is black, indeed, which has no expecta- 
tion of reunion. We may utterly deny this 
hope even to ourselves, yet in the depth of 
each sorrowing soul there will be found a 
germinal perhaps. But strangely, stupidly, 
we postpone to some unknown future day this 
reunion with our loved ones. When we die 
we may rejoin them, we tel! ourselves, as if 
the resurrection were a flower of sudden con- 
summation, instead of being, like every other 
human hope, already begun in our earth-ex- 
istence, and merely completed in the life be- 
yond death. Already at this very hour and 
moment we possess all the finest privileges of 
companionship. None of those qualities most 
valuable to human affection have we ever 
really lost. We do, indeed, miss many precious 
things sacred to earth and to the body: the 
twinkle in the eye, but what was that except 
as it expressed the quaint, merry spirit? the 
touch of the hand, but what was that except 
as it signified love ? the swift thudding of little 
feet on the gravel, but did our ears really 
prize that sound except as it said the child 
was so glad to come home to us after school? 
Surely whatsoever things are loveUest in 
earthly intercourse we still possess inalien- 
ably: a mutual understanding, forever secure 
against estrangement, an hourly intimacy 

125 



APRIL BURIAL 

not subject to earthly distance, and best of 
all, the sharing of that aspiration which we 
lay bare to the soul of the dead, but hide from 
any nearer comrade, since, in our pitiful self- 
consciousness, we are afraid to tell any living 
being how hungry we are for God, how in- 
tensely we long just to be good. Of these 
priceless privileges of human comradeship 
no grave has ever robbed us, nor can ever rob. 
It is life that can sever. Life has many ways 
of separating us, but death has only one, and 
that one is merely apparent and superficial. 
The disintegration of the grave is a slight 
thing compared with the corroding estrange- 
ments of life. There are living people whom 
we once loved who now are so far removed 
from us that it seems as if all eternity could 
not restore them. Sometimes the fault was in 
our gross misunderstanding of them, some- 
times in theirs of us. We have seen friends 
once noble slowly subdued to decay through 
some selfish course, until, while they still hold 
out their hands to our love, we turn from them 
in despair. Much of earthly association, ex- 
ternally smooth, is inwardly hesitant and 
dogged with doubt. By contrast how holy 
and how honest is our communion with our 
dead! Both the friends here and the friends 
beyond our sight are graciously sent us for 
126 



APRIL BURIAL 

our strengthening and our joy, but so fallible 
are we all that only those passed from us are 
forever safe from all misunderstanding and 
all cruelty on their part or on ours. Because 
of this security they have become the warp 
and woof of our being. They are nearer than 
we know. 

How close they seem to us sometimes, our 
dead! Sometimes we wake drowsily, feeling 
all the darkness palpitant with their presence. 
Perhaps they yearn to reach us through all 
the barricades of sense. It is disloyal to doubt 
that they still love us as we love them. They, 
too, have learned to understand us better, as 
we them, since we were parted. Always, when 
we think of them, we have a sense of happy 
Intimacy. Invisible though they are, we are 
aware of serene eyes, of strong presences 
freed from the old sad handicap of pain. 
Sometimes they even seem to be laughing at 
us, beautiful laughter like the mirth of little 
April winds above a grave — divine merri- 
ment of reassurance, as if they were trying to 
tell us that our feet were sundered from them 
merely that they might learn to knit step to 
theirs more blithely here and hereafter. At 
times we shiver a little, remembering how 
dull we were to their beauty when they were 
with us of old, or conjecturing how earth-life 
127 



APRIL BURIAL 

with Its myriad means of severance might 
have menaced this our present glad security. 
In these long years we have seen the flower- 
ing of the grave, we have tasted the fruitage 
of our loneliness. When we enter that exist- 
ence that consummates earth, clear faces of 
love will smile in greeting, and some sweet, 
amused voice will welcome, asking us, "Did 
you really think that you had lost me when 
in no other way could I have walked so close 
to you all this while?'* 



w^ 



GRACE BEFORE BOOKS 

E live in an age that does not ask the 



blessing. To some of us, wistful for 
an older fashion, the world may seem to have 
had comelier manners in days when little chil- 
dren did say grace in every Christian kind 
of place. There is a spiritual gaucheTie in our 
present sheepishness before the Unseen, an 
Besthetic loss in the fact that heads no longer 
bow and knees no longer kneel in instinctive 
reverence. It is to no graceless age that liter- 
ature owes the tender homeliness of the bless- 
ings that Herrick asked, or the exquisite 
gratitude implied in Lamb's protest against 
"Grace before Meat," These were two men 
who always sat down with a relish to the meal 
of life, although the fare that was served them 
may look to us harsh enough. It was because 
he found so many things holier to enjoy that 
Lamb deprecated a ritual of thanks con- 
fined to "the solitary ceremony of mandu- 
cation." 

We to whom life may sometimes seem a 
bitter banquet, squalidly set forth, may some- 
times, reading, envy Lamb, seeing that neither 
the stale boredom of the counting-house nor 
129 



GRACE BEFORE BOOKS 

the acrid sting of the madhouse ever spoiled 
the gusto of his palate. It is with the high- 
heart gayety that is the finest essence of 
thanksgiving that he demands: 

"A form for setting out upon a pleasant 
walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly- 
meeting, or a solved problem. Why have we 
none for books, those spiritual repasts — a 
grace before Milton, a grace before Shake- 
speare, a devotional exercise proper to be said 
before reading 'The Faerie Queene'?" 

A poet of to-day has echoed Lamb's desire: 

"Myriad-leaved aa an elm; 
Starred with shining word and phrase; 
Wondrous words that overwhelm, 
Phrases vivid, swift, divine; 
Gracious turn of verse and line — 
O God, all praise 
For a book; its tears, its wit. 
Its faults, and the perfect joy of it." 

In an age when tongue and pen alike are 
stiff and straitened in the utterance both of 
prayer and praise, it were, perhaps, an exer- 
cise enfranchising for the spirit to formulate 
certain graces for those books that, devoured, 
have become our bone and sinew and red cor- 
puscle, but that we have received and rel- 
ished with "never a civil word to God." The 
dishes named in Lamb's book-feast have been 
130 



GRACE BEFORE BOOKS 

also the chief dishes of our own sustenance. 
We might offer this tardy grace for Milton: 

"Jehovah, who dost speak by prophets, we 
thank thee for thy prophet-poet, for music 
martial with the battle-cries of hell and 
heaven, and melodious with the peaceful 
praise of earth, for manhood austere and 
lonely, for faith fearless in defeat and dark- 
ness; through him may wc believe that genius 
is greatest through speaking the glory of God, 
that the scholar is wisest through the study 
of holiness; that the soldier is bravest who, 
unbroken unto death, serves no king but 
God." 

To image a world without Shakespeare is 
as hard as to image an earth without the sun; 
but which one of us has ever thanked God for 
him? In saying grace for the king of words, 
all others' words must stammer: 

"God in man, we thank thee that to one 
man thou didst lend thine own creatorship 
to make a world; we bless thee that each one 
of us may enter there and, in the only poet 
speech that ever made word and passion one, 
may hear souls speak fear, hate, love, and 
know each soul only our own made myriad 
by a poet's magic; and, looking within our 
own heart to find there Hamlet and Caliban, 
Romeo and Puck, may see, with God and 
131 




GRACE BEFORE BOOKS 

Shakespeare, the universal heart, which to 
perceive is to pity, which to understand is to 
love, which to reverence i^ to aspire." 

It should not be in the humdrum language 
of every day, but in the woven melody of t!ie 
Spenserian stanza that we ask a blessing upon 
our reading of the poet of the poets: 

"God of beauty, we thank thee for those 
woods and waters of enchantment where 
knights and ladies ride to the adventure of 
a wizard's brain, where shines forever a light 
that never shone, where lies forever a world 
that never was. We thank God for one who 
out of the bleak stones of rectitude could 
build a palace of radiant righteousness, bright 
with beings moving forth from faerie to the 
harmonies of a music timed to earth's hidden 
heart-beats and to the pulsing of the stars. 
We whose lives are prose thank God that the 
poets' poet chose to sing in imperishable story 
the grace of goodness and the loveliness of 
love." 

But would one who was himself past- 
master in appreciation and its expression have 
approved these our blessings before books? 
One wishes that Lamb himself had set to 
words his gratitude for his poets. We can utter 
no grace he could not have bettered, except 
perhaps one, a grace for EUa himself; 
132 



GRACE BEFORE BOOKS 

"Father, who in love didst ordain sunshine 
to cheer our eyes and laughter to cheer our 
souls, we thank thee for that great and simple 
man, because his mirth was as that of the 
flowers, which every morning praise thee. 
We thank thee for wit and wisdom and whim- 
sey, and all the sun-bright weapons thou 
didst give him against a darkling fate. We 
thank thee for one who, loving the men of 
the past as he loved the men of the present, 
is by us loved even as he loved. We thank 
thee for one who loved a book as he loved a 
man, and we thank thee for his book because 
it is himself.'* 



SOME REASONS FOR BEING 
REJECTED 

I SOMETIMES wonder by what wireless 
communication editors attain their una- 
nimity of attitude and phrase. Presumably 
seated In many several offices, how do they 
so often contrive to say the same thing at the 
same time? A few years ago illustrated mag- 
azines exhibited a brief but conspicuous iden- 
tity In cover designs, all showing infancy in 
bedtime costume. For a while children in 
nighties and pajamas capered in droves over 
the counters of all stationers. Now, how did 
every artist know that every other artist 
was going to the night nursery for models? 

Looking back over a dozen years of Grub 
Street, I find that the fashions for editors are 
just as contagious as those for illustrators. By 
seeing the date alone of a rejection, I can give 
the editorial reasons without further investi- 
gation as to what editor or what magazine. I 
write as one who has attained the doubtful 
dignity of the personal letter of refusal. I find 
that ten years ago editors very generally re- 
jected me because my manuscripts did not 
"quite compel acceptance." Now this is an 

134 



Reasons for being rejected 

over-civil statement of the over-civility of my 
gentle little sketches and tales. The truth is, 
they grew up in New England and were never 
trained in cowboy manners. "Compelling 
acceptance" always suggests to my mind a 
mustachio'd ranchman presenting a pistol 
and a check to some lone bank clerk and 
demanding gold in exchange. This money-or- 
your-life method of "compelling acceptance" 
is as impossible to my stories as it would be 
to the ladies, fragrant with borwood and 
lemon verbena, about whom I like to write. 

A few years later the phrase polite for "no 
admittance" changed. The buffet became 
more robust and ringing. Editors at this pe- 
riod asked for "a little more ginger." Six or 
seven years ago all editors were crying for 
"ginger." I could not give it to them, but so 
many other people could and did, that pres- 
ently they had enough ginger and were pass- 
ing on to demand stronger condiment: they 
no longer wanted ginger, but "a little more 
pep, please," Editors at this stage were be- 
coming less gentle in language as well as in 
desires. At first I merely could not "quite 
compel acceptance," but later rebuff was ad- 
ministered in figurative speech that became 
constantly more arresting. "Ginger" and 
"pep" were mild and gastronomic in sugges- 

'35 




S^rrt 



«lBEfSGRli5Bcfl! 



tion, but from the "pep" period on, editoria! 
imagery has been becoming more and more 
vigorous. 

For a long time "punch" dominated the 
vocabulary and intentions of all periodicals. 
It made no difference what other accomplish- 
ments a manuscript might possess: if it could 
not "punch," it might as well stay at home, 
A writer had no choice but to drop contempla- 
tion, remove his coat, hand his spectacles to 
his wife, adopt the language of the prize-ring 
and "punch" his reader — an audacious en- 
terprise and productive of more unanimity in 
rejection than any other course I have pur- 
sued. 

My literary career under enforced editorial 
guidance has steadily advanced from suavity 
to violence. At first I tried merely to "compel 
attention"; next I obediently served "ginger" 
and "pep"; after that, weakly and mildly, 
have 1 endeavored to "punch"; but there are 
progressiveordealsyetbeforeme. To"punch," 
in the prize-fight, there is allowed a degree of 
decorum; there are still rules for the game in 
"punch[ng,"but I discover that even" punch" 
is obsolescent. This morning an editor returns 
my offerings with the comment, "Excellent 
of their kind, but I prefer stories with more 
'kick\'" Can I, must I, "kick"? 

136 



REASONS FOR BEING REJECTED 

According to the cumulative demand of 
editors for ferocity, after " kick," what ? 
Next week shall I be requested to "stab"? To 
make a stiletto of the innocent pen whose 
first efforts were taught manners by Sir Roger 
de Coverley? I wonder how Addison and 
Irving would have responded if they had 
been asked to "kick." My pained imagina- 
tion looks forward into the years of bread- 
winning still before me, to read in fancy the 
reasons for future rejection, as editors be- 
come more frenzied and more figurative. Will 
it be: 

"We are under orders to accept no freight 
at this depot except high explosives"; or, 
"No magazine can keep on the market to-day 
that is not prepared to blow the reader's 
brains out," 

Two things I am pondering. Does the 
reader never long to be approached by 
methods of peace and propriety? Even if he 
is that ogre of the artist, the Tired Business 
Man, is drubbing my sole manner of meet- 
ing him? If it is not, it is high time you 
said so, reader, to ears having authority. If 
you do not speak out, the treatment In store 
for you is no exaggeration on my part. I am 
behind the scenes, and I know. I have it 
straight from Caesar that I must "kick" you, 
137 



REASONS FOR BEING REJECTED 

so impervious are you to ways of pleasant- 
ness. 

The other thing I am pondering is, what 
will be the editorial reason for rejecting this 
essay. 




I 



THE STORY IN THE MAKING 

FOR some years I have followed in various 
magazines those various outpourings 
that throw light on literature in the making, 
studying to see just how literature lays hold 
of my fellow workers. I often wonder how 
other people make stories. 

For me the most frequent way in which the 
embryonic story presents itself is as a face, a 
piquant, challenging face, glimpsing at me, 
as it were, out of a mist. "Complete ray anat- 
omy, discover my character, write my story, 
if you dare!" it seems to say, and straightway 
vanishes. Sometimes it is a gray old face, 
strange with mysterious wisdom; sometimes 
it is a middle-aged face, the lips twitching 
with subtle humor; but all the faces are alike 
in one respect, the promptness with which 
they vanish when I try to fix them with an 
analytical eye. From their first tantalizing 
elusiveness, to their last chill entombment in 
cold print, these bodiless beings exhibit an 
incredible harshness of behavior toward their 
best friend and well wisher, the author. They 
show the most incomprehensible aversion to 
being created. They never lend a helping 
139 




t5RY IN THE MAKING 

hand to their own development; they let their 
creator do all the work while they have all 
the fun. 

Of course after a character has once shown 
its mocking, charming face peeping at you 
from obscuring curtains of fog, there is noth- 
ing for it but to be up and after. True, I used 
to be more civil to my own creations, used to 
think that they would come forth in gracious 
vividness if I would merely sit and wait with 
politely receptive mind. Thus I waited, until 
I fell asleep, and they never came. They don't 
fool me in that way now. I let them know 
at once just what sort of creator they have 
to deal with, and I proceed straightway to 
hound them down to the finish. 

First, I sit with my eye fixed on that spot 
in the mental mist where the face has last 
vanished, and I look and look until my eye 
pierces the fog, and I find the fugitive, and 
slowly see form and feature, and I don't let 
go until — 

"There! have I drawn or no 
Life to that lip?" — 
until I know the way my face parts its hair, 
and the way it parts its lips, until I know all 
the changes in its eyes, and the way it crinkles 
itself when it laughs. Then I must proceed to 
fit face with figure and costume, and next, 
140 



THE STORY IN THE MAKING 

hardly daring to relax the grip of my glance 
long enough, I make the whole walk up and 
down in front of me so that I can see just 
what are the tricks of its gait. All through the 
process the creature has wriggled and writhed 
from my grasp like a very Proteus, and at the 
end I positively have to pound him into pro- 
priety while I fasten him to a chair in a blaze 
of daylight. Ten to one, he'll be off before I 
can get back, for I must away, hallooing into 
the mist again to find others for my pretty 
puppet to play with. Back I come after a 
while, pulling a reluctant train. I tack them 
all to their seats, for they are so mutinous 
that I hardly dare to turn my back upon 
them. I consult them at every turn, but they 
refuse to answer a single word. They will not 
say whether they prefer the mountains or the 
sea, whether they like their dining-rooms in 
orange tawny or terra cotta, whether they 
prefer Botticelli or Charles Dana Gibson on 
their walls. I do my best, but when I have 
clapped on the last weatherboard, and clipped 
off the last protruding twig of their hedge- 
rows, they sniff at me because I do not know 
their tastes. 

It is just here that the saddest part of my 
story-making begins, and the heartless com- 
pany there present, well they know it. "Ha!" 
141 




THE STORY IN THE MAKING 

they cry, "you can lead a character up to 
action, but you cannot make him act." How 
I wish that the editor and the public would 
receive the story at the present stage! Have 
I not really done enough! Perfectly ignorant 
of carpentry and mason-work, I have built 
that lordly gray pile on the hillside yondei 
not to mention that bustling city in the dis- 
tance. Utterly inexperienced in horticulture, 
I have laid out some twenty acres of land- 
scape gardening over which the public is at 
liberty to wander at will; and chief, I have 
introduced to your acquaintance half a dozen 
fascinating people, most charming and sym- 
pathetic towards all humanity but their 
author. But this is not enough; the public de- 
mands of me yet more inspiration and per- 
spiration. My mutineers must dance through 
a plot, and look as if they enjoyed it, too. 
At first, of course, they are inexorably i 
active. I protest and I plead hopelessly. But 
at last as caged animals finally condescend to 
the tricks of the circus ring out of very ennui, 
I see my characters pricking up their ears a 
bit at the poses I suggest. Flattery works 
tolerably well, "You'd look so pretty in aa 
incident," I suggest to my heroine, and lan- 
guidly she rises, but warms presently to 
more spirited pantomime before her mirror. 
14a 



TiJE STORY IN THE MAKIKG 

Also I appeal to their loyalty to each other, 
"Whist!" I cry, "here's our pretty young 
hero having a 2 A.M. tussle with a burglar in 
the coal-bin. Up with you, and down to the 
rescue, every man of you!" and down they 
scurry. 

Presently, happy sight, behold the whole 
company prancing and pirouetting with an 
animation I would not have believed possible 
ten minutes ago ! After all the trouble I have 
had to set them jigging, it is hard to raise a 
protesting voice and call a halt — " Stop ! this 
is action, I grant you, but it is n't plot. Clear 
the stage! Hero and heroine and climax to the 
front, if you please." Such adroitness and 
diplomacy as I have to exert In order to per- 
suade them all to take their proper places in 
the march of incidents! I try all sorts of ap- 
peal; my second lady being in the dumps, I 
say, "Shame! You must let Olivia have the 
first proposal scene. It's naughty to be jeal- 
ous, and don't you remember that you have 
a New England conscience? It's about all you 
have got, too, except your eyebrows. Besides, 
I leave you at the end with another proposal 
distinctly looming upon the horizon." 

I always have most exhausting arguments 
with my puppets about their actions. They 
Bay they are disgusted with the obsequious- 

H3 



ness with which I refer to the public, and they 
don't beUeve I know anything about the pub- 
lic anyTvay; if I'd just once give them a free 
hand unhampered by introduction, sequence, 
climax, or denouement, they would make me 
a plot that would make me a made man. 

Somehow at last by dint of infinite patience 
I persuade them all to go through their proper 
incidents in their proper order. The next task 
is to make them pause in their poses long 
enough for me to catcli up my pen and sketch 
them in action. 

Puffing, panting, pleading, somehow or 
other I get them all down in black and white 
at last, and then, seeing that I have finished, 
they all come tiptoeing up to look over my 
shoulder at what I have written. I turn up 
my collar against the storm of abuse. , ■■ 

"Is that leering old reprobate meant for 
me?" inquires the most delightful grand- 
father I ever met in imagination. 

The heroine's cheeks are hot. "I never 
flirted so outrageously as that with any one 
in my life," she cries, "not even with — " 
Here she glances at the hero. 

"She did n't, and you had no business to 
say so!" he takes up the cudgels. "But, pray, 
what Is this curious fringe I observe orna- 
menting my vocabulary? College slang! I as- 
144 



THE STORY IN THE MAKING 

sure you that it never grew in any college for 
gentlemen. It sounds to me like an opium 
den, and I should like to inquire, sir, where 
you learned it!" 

"Where in the world are my eyebrows?" 
wails the second lady. 

Unable to control myself longer, I jump 
from my chair and turn upon them, " See here, 
if you think making a story is so much easier 
than being one, just take my desk and chair 
and pen and try it!" 



THE WIZARD WORD 

THE world is in danger of being too 
acutely discovered. Pretty soon there 
won't be any Nowhere. There will be a road- 
map through it for every tooting motor, a 
cloud-map through it for every wheeling air- 
ship. We are impelled to know and know and 
know, and all the time knowledge is such a 
stupid quarry to be always hunting down. The 
only real sport is mystery. Presently neither 
sea nor sky will be left for the spirit to adven- 
ture, yet the imagination must have some- 
where to sail. 

It is here that the world of words comes in 
so handily. That is a universe never to be re- 
duced to terms of sense and science; words 
are too fraught with sense for that. Language 
is still a place of sun-gleams and shadows, of 
lightnings and half-lights, and things forgotten 
and things to be, of odors and tastes and pic- 
tures and hauntings, whole pageants of dead 
dynasties evoked perhaps by a small adjective. 
Words are so elusive, so personal, in their sug- 
gestion, that science will never bully all fancy 
out of us so long as we have words to talk in, 
to dream in. 

146 



THE WIZARD WORD 

It is just in proportion as words retain their 
mystery, that they retain their magic. So 
soon as they present too definite a picture, 
odor, taste, they lose their wizardry. We may 
outgrow our fairy tales, but there are few of 
us for whom some words do not always retain 
their witchery of suggestion, words that have 
never become in our minds too definite, words 
that still glimpse haze and mystery and the 
magic of ignorance. I would so much rather 
look into my heart for the meaning of a word 
than into the dictionary; it is one of many 
methods of defending one's imagination from 
the encroachments of knowledge. 

Some words possess a mysterious spacious- 
ness: try "Homeric," think it, pronounce it, 
and you will see in the fiash of that adjective 
men and women growing to god-size, taller, 
stronger, more beautiful than any but Homer 
ever thought of, and you will see everything 
in vast numbers, great herds of cattle for the 
hecatomb, tens of thousands of men-at-arms 
surging, limitless spear-points pricking all 
the plain. No fleet, no army, could be so big 
and vast as that one word Homeric. 

Another word that suggests number be- 
yond any ciphering is the word "doubloon." 
Could any one ever feel so rich in terms of 
dollars as in terms of doubloons ? This is be- 
H7 




cause nobody with any imagination knows 
how much a doubloon is worth, or wants to 
and people without any imagination can 
never feel rich any way, no matter how many 
dollars or doubloons they have. 

"Galleon" is a noun that twins with doub- 
loon. A galleon Is the stanchest vessel any one 
can go to sea in, although it is only a word, 
not a ship any longer. There's a splendor, a 
pride, about a galieon. It glides, it never sails, 
and italways has favoring winds, itcommands 
them. Nobody can picture a galleon with 
Bails a-flap in a dead calm, or with sails in 
ribbons in a gale. A galleon is always mis- 
tress of all weathers. On the other hand a 
galleon is not altogether a craft for highest 
emprise, it's not what "merchant-adven- 
turers" would sail in. "Merchant-adventur- 
ers" — there is a word that fits with a brawl- 
ing and buffeting sea, or deadly tropic calm 
and the sighting of low, fronded islands, or 
the black rim of a pirate boat on the treach- 
erous, unknown water. But what a ring of 
rollicking jollity and dauntless fellowship 
there is in that brave old compound noun, 
merchant-adventurers! It is one of the many 
words that, fading from our vocabulary, carry 
with them whole decades of history. It lays 
open all "the spacious days of great Eliza- 

148 



I 



beth." Yet when I apply it to definite names, 
Drake, Forbisher, Raleigh, instantly some of 
the magic fades. I want no names for my 
merchant-adventurers. 

There are other words that echo to the vast- 
ness of the EHzabethan imagination. "Em- 
pery" resounds with the thundering con- 
quests of Tamburlainc, which in turn were 
but echoes of the insatiable soulnquest of Kit 
Martowe, The word to me spells Marlowe, 
and spells Keats; not all the world could sup- 
ply the indomitable desire that is dreamed 
of in empery, not al! the kingdoms of earth 
were enough for the empery of Tamburlaine. 
Empery is richer, vaster, more insatiably 
desirable than empire. Empire dwindles to a 
petty exactness beside it. Empire is not the 
only word to turn to magic by the addition of 
the suggestive suffix, ry. Ry might be termed 
the supernatural suffix, for it always has 
a connotation of spirit-peopled places. The 
word "glamour" has in it a certain degree 
of magic, but change it to "glamoury," and 
see what happens, what glimmering vistas of 
elfland open forth. And if the y following 
the r be changed to ie, the result has evea 
more of wizardry, which word is itself an ex- 
ample of my ry argument. Notice the differ- 
ence of degree in glamour, glamoury, glam- 

149 




THE WIZARD WORD 

ourie, and in "fairy," which is mild in meaning 
when set beside "faerie." And is there any 
word in our tongue so capable of evoiiing the 
sensations of that shivery borderland between 
the known and the uniinowable as the dissyl- 
labic "eerie"? 

"A savage place! as holy and enchanted 
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted 
By woman wailing for her demon lover!" 

The connotation of words In ry and rie is 
an example in the superlative degree of the 
magic of indefiniteness, but there is plenty 
of conjuring power in terms which have no 
supernatural suggestion. All the romance of 
a bygone period may often be better evoked 
by a word than by treatises of overdone his- 
torical research. 

Often some word of wearing apparel may 
summon forth a whole pageant of costume. 
Try "wimple," "kirtle," "shift." I should 
have no idea of the size or shape of the de- 
sired garment, should be helpless before my 
needle and scissors; but in spite of this ig- 
norance, and, as I maintain, because of it, the 
word "wimple" shall always call up for me 
peaked crown and flowing veil, and the can- 
tering and the clinking and chattering of all 
Chaucer's blithe procession; the word "kirtle" 
flashes Perdita upon my vision, Perdita, the 
150 



' tHE WIZARD WORD 

shepherdess-princess weaving her dance; and 
"shift" is a noun which crowds upon me all 
the crude, quick life of the ballads; for in this 
garment, beneath a hovering halo, forsaken 
ladies drowned were always floating about on 
midnight waters by way of reproach to their 
lords. 

The innermost luxury of all sense-percep- 
tion is never experienced from the too clearly 
analyzed sensation, however acute. "Heard 
melodies are sweet, but those unheard are 
sweeter," No music has such a spell for our 
feet as is implied in the words "piping" and 
"fifing," but few of us have ever danced to 
piping or to fifing. In the realm of smell is 
any rose as sweet as the quaint word "posy"? 
Yet can you tell its shape, or color or odor? 
It is a spicy mingling of all the fragrance of 
all sweet gardens that ever were — or that 
never were! 

There exists nothing so toothsome as the 
food and drink we have never tasted and shall 
never taste. A "venison pasty" never ap- 
peared on any menu wc ever read, yet we 
know that we have never eaten anything so 
savory. "Mead," "canary," "mulled wine," 
are drinks delectable. The mighty goblets of 
Valhalla ran with "mead," and from them 
we quaff great hero draughts; "canary" fires 



THE WIZARD WORD 

all our veins with the tingling, ringing young 
exuberance of the Mermaid Tavern; while 
"mulled wine" is the most comforting of 
toddies, soothing to sleep after the coziness 
and confidences of midnight slippers and 
dressing-gown. 

There are few people so prosaic as not to 
possess, hidden away from their own and 
others' investigation as securely as every 
man's secret belief in ghosts, a whole con- 
juror's chest of wizard words. I have merely 
mentioned some of those nouns which have 
for me the power to set me free to adventure 
the unknown. To every man his own words, 
his own enchantments, so long as they have 
might to release from the chains of knowledge, 
and to unshackle the imagination for the 
spirit's free adventuring. 



THE PLEASURES OF THE 
PREPOSITION 

THERE is no sin in playing with pebbles, 
if one does not forget their connection 
with the stars and the suns. It is not repre- 
hensible to "study Plato for his preposi- 
tions," if one remains mindful of the phil- 
osophic deduction that may depend on the 
interpretation of -rrapA or vn-o. One loving the 
human whimsicalities of synonyms may be 
excused if he sometimes turn away from the 
bombastic importance of the noun, the nerv- 
ous insistence of the verb, the glaring orna- 
ment of adjective or adverb, to regard some 
of the subticties of the humble preposition. 

All word-worlicrs have their pet preposi- 
tions, and have a critical eye for writers who 
do not share their regard for this or that 
favorite, who are careless, say, with "by," 
or indiscriminate with "in." Unhappily there 
exist artists who show a lively interest in the 
more prominent parts of speech, but who seem 
to have no respect for the precious connec- 
tives; who make an ugly knot when they em- 
ploy a conjunction, or stitch in a preposition 
with a prominence that offends the pattern. 
I S3 



PLEASURES OF THE PREPOSITION 

The purpose of the preposition is to point 
out the place of its superiors, their relation 
each to each, "above," "below," "around," 
"near"; but its own place is shown by its 
usurping no other: its dignity consists in its 
obscurity. And yet the preposition is itself 
often so full of meaning that it requires a 
skillful stylist to give it all its due of signifi- 
cance, and at the same time confine it to its 
humble position. 

Without the preposition, nouns and verbs, 
however important in themselves, might 
remain mere separate splashes of color or 
shape; it is for the preposition so to weave 
them into the web of the sentence that their 
relative positions may indicate to the full the 
significance of the patterned thought. Be- 
cause its primary business is with placing 
other words, indicating each varying angle of 
their relation each to each — as for example 
whether a thing emanates "from" a man or 
goes "to" him or passes "through" him — 
the preposition is always hard to separate 
from its place-meaning, even with all the 
subtle distinctions of thought to which it 
may attain. Of these distinctions our ado- 
lescence, impatient of the schooling of rule 
and rhetoric, grows weary; but later there 
comes a pleasure in the play of connotation 

»54 



PLEASURES OF THE PREPOSlftSS 

we may employ. Prepositions become pic- 
turesque with their import for our fancy. Ex- 
amine "in" and "into": "into" has a cata- 
pultic impact, suggests the splash of a stone 
thrown "into" the water, to be readily con- 
trasted with the static quality of "in," the 
stillness, the permanence of the stones, the 
plants, "in" the water. The distinction some- 
times veers away from the primary difference, 
when, for instance, the pen hesitates in writ- 
ing that the individual is merged "into" the 
whole or "in" the whole. To my mind, the 
waters of oblivion close over him with more 
finality if he is merged "in" than "into." One 
enjoys preserving the accuracy of "between" 
and "among," conscious of all the intimacy 
of "between," all the promiscuityof "among." 
In comparing "with" and comparing "to," 
the imagination perceives an implication of 
social strata, since one compares a man 
"with" his fellows, in a democratic homoge- 
neity; but in comparing him "to" another, 
one connotes the existence of a superior, an 
aristocracy by means of which we measure 
and contrast. 

An Instinct for niceties often leads us to 
turn to the greater subtlety obtainable by 
employing prepositions from another tongue 
than our own. The place element in a native 



PLEASURES OF THE PREPOSITION" 



preposition Is likely so to persist, that one 
substitutes for its obtrusive literalness the 
greater subtlety possible to the foreign prepo- 
sition from its unfamiliarity. Our own "for" 
and "against" are heavy with place-sugges- 
tion, as against the weight of pure argument 
inherent in the Latin "pro" and "con," The 
prepositions of one's own language never can 
be made utterly free of literalness. Note how 
in "under the rose" the thought is obscured 
by the picture, while in "sub rosa" we in- 
stantly get the desired impression of all the 
whispered stealth of scandal. About the Latin 
"circa" there floats a delightful historic misti- 
ness; "circa" 300 b.c. has a nebulosity not 
obtainable by the matter-of-fact "about." 

Each of us has, perhaps, his pet preposi- 
tions from alien tongues, as pleasing to his 
pen as his favorites of his own vernacular. 
Who of us has not a fondness for the dear dis- 
cursive "de," which long ago opened to us 
the pleasant paths of "Amicitia" and the 
strong self-reliance of "Senectute".' "De," 
translated into its English equivalent "con- 
cerning," has prefaced many a charming es- 
say, and "concerning" still, whenever seen in 
a title, promises us entrance into all the en- 
chanting realm of rambling. 

The French "a la" supplies a word that 
IS6 



I 
I 



I 



i 



PLEASURES OF THE PREPOSITION 

social usage could hardly do without. We 
less gracious races need that French term, 
meaning "in the manner of," for manner has 
with us too little importance. We need to bor- 
row from our Gallic cousins that preposi- 
tional phrase, as we need to learn, also, some 
of the grace that they believe should always 
crown conduct. We need to manage our social 
activities as well as our military ones more In 
the French fashion. Meditating on preposi- 
tions, Gallic and Latin, one remarks the ade- 
quacy of their employment in the Latin 
tongues, so that they weave the substance of 
the other parts of speech into a blended pat- 
tern, wherein they themselves remain duly 
obscure. What is the significance of the con- 
trasting behavior of the German preposition, 
which insists that its importance shall be felt 
by arranging the whole sentence to meet its 
needs ? 

Does this pen-play with prepositions seem 
perhaps petty, as if a grown man should toss 
pebbles on the seashore? But perhaps the 
pebbles might tell him of eternity. Do we not 
sometimes need to remind ourselves of what 
is permanent? Perhaps words are more en- 
during than wars. There was once a man who 
thought it no paltry pastime to be preoccu- 
pied with words — small words at that: 



PLEASURES OF THE PREPOSITION 

^^Hoti^s business"; "The doctrine of the en- 
clitic Z)^." Because, refusing to be confined 
to the contemporary, he gave his study to 
language, the imperishable, a great poet 
thought him worthy of mountain burial in 
"A Grammarian^s FuneraL" 



FACES IN FICTION 

ONE of the greatest difficulties for the 
conscientious story-writer is the draw- 
ing of faces. For many an autlior story-telling 
reduces itself to fitting a plot and an environ- 
ment to a pair of burning eyes, or a pair 
of subtle lips suddenly visioned forth from 
chaos. He is not conscious of creating men 
and women, but merely of explaining their 
physiognomy. Every novelist walks through 
life surrounded by a crowd of faces, not only 
finished in every detail of line and color, but 
challenging with spirit-life to be investigated. 
The souls flickering behind these palpitant 
masks are importunate for the author's ve- 
racity, and frequently he feels helpless so to 
transfer a countenance from his own to the 
reader's retina that eyes, nose, mouth shall 
not belie the character they are meant to 
indicate. A writer needs to ascertain some of 
the laws and some of the dangers of face- 
making if he is to picture to his reader's 
Imagination exactly the same people he has 
first pictured to his own. 

The first peril one meets in portraiture Is 
that of so accentuating some one feature as 
159 



FACES IN FICTION 

to produce a caricature. On the other hand, 
impartial attention to separate features often 
fails to give any unified impression; detailed 
description either descends to the dullness of 
a catalogue or misses effecting any picture at 
all through ignoring one essential fact of the 
average reader's psychology — lengthy word- 
painting, however excellent in itself, misses 
its aim because sustained visualization Is im- 
possible for most people. They lose the pic- 
ture by their very effort to give it continuous 
attention, whereas they can keep on reading 
appreciatively as long as something is hap- 
pening or somebody is talking, just as most 
of us are less exhausted by the theater than 
by an art gallery. It follows that the best 
method of transmitting a face from the 
writer's brain to the reader's is not by elabo- 
ration, but by some flashing light, some flar- 
ing phrase, or sparkling figure. 

Another difficulty encountered in por- 
traiture can be instantly verified by the lay- 
man. Each one of us has at some time had 
trouble in describing some friend to a third 
person entirely ignorant of his personality. 
How baffled we become by the clumsy in- 
adequacy of our words! How quickly we give 
up the struggle to reproduce the appearance, 
and fall back on the easier presentation of the 
i6o 



FACES IN FICTION 

character! Spirit is easy to describe, but body 
is hopelessly misleading. This is why it is 
much harder to picture a face we know well 
than a face new and uninvestigated — some 
chance acquaintance, for example, who has 
arrested our attention on the street, or on a 
train. When a face has once become familiar, 
either in fact or in fancy, its externals are 
ever after absorbed by its expression, and by 
our sympathy with the soul that limns that 
expression. It would, therefore, seem more 
important that an author should paint the 
expression than the features, letting the 
reader become acquainted with people in 
fiction as in life by the way the light in their 
eyes or the droop of their lips reveals them. 
Yet one questions whether emphasis even on 
expression is necessary, seeing that in certain 
eminent instances it has been sufficient merely 
to make personality compelling, with the re- 
sult that the reader conceives for himself 
both the features and their significance, 

If we turn our attention from making pic- 
tures for other people to the example of those 
who have made pictures for us, the memory 
is instantly crowded with portraits. We dis- 
cover at once that story-tellers, great or small, 
rarely image their characters to us by means 
of the face alone, sometimes not by the face 
i6i 



at all. Carriage, gesture, the significant atti- 
tude, even an eloquent inertness, are em- 
ployed to give truth to a personality. Since 
the mechanics of fiction, which is something 
quite apart from creative force or attainment, 
is a science becoming every day more and 
more perfected, examples from the contem- 
porary are often more illustrative in matters 
of workmanship than examples from the 
classics, A quotation from Jacob Stahl shows 
the employment of significant gesture. We 
forget Owen Bradley's face, but we remem- 
ber, as revealing the trimness and dispatch 
of his whole character, his manner of han- 
dling his glasses: "one pair for working, an- 
other for general purposes. The end of a 
leather spectacle case protruded from his 
upper waistcoat pocket, and there was a 
complete indication of the whole method cf 
the man in his neat rapid exchange of one 
pair of gold-rlmmed glasses for the other." 

One recalls various Instances when other 
aspects of the body Impress both author and 
reader as more pregnant with revelation than 
physiognomy. It was not Trlx Esmond's 
head, but her feet, that made havoc with 
Henry Esmond's heart, feet that we can see 
twinkling down the polished stair, In their 
scarlet stockings and white shoes, scarlet 
162 



FACES IN FICTION 

stockings with silver clocks. Feet, a wee white 
pair, a baby's, bare and buoyant, remem- 
bered from a magazine poem, dance in my 
fancy by means of the magic phrase, "un- 
pityingly sweet." One recalls many feet in 
fiction, feet brutal or groping or tripping, but 
always feet informed by spirit, and from 
many a book one recollects hands equally 
fraught with meaning. Which to Browning 
connoted more of her character, as he gazed 
at his wife in the fire-glow, " that great brow," 
or the "spirit-small hand propping it"? 
Which holds us more, the Ancient Mariner's 
"glittering eye," or his "skinny hand"? 
Could any terms express better the ethereal 
pathos of Iseult of Brittany, her selfless tend- 
ing of a stranger knight, fever-tossed, and 
her yearning widowhood bereft even of mem- 
ories, than her epithet, "Iseult of the snow- 
white hands"? 

As one studies the memory-gallery of living 
pictures, one is surprised to learn how often 
a countenance, recognized as familiar and 
cordial, will on examination be found to be 
not a whole face, but merely a part of one. 
Some of the most famous faces in fiction come 
to us only in some vivid particular, a quiet 
forehead serene with wisdom, a pair of 
smouldering eyes, a dazzle of hair. There are 
163 



FACES IN FICTION 

Gome glorious heads of hair in English ro- 
mance. One thinks, perhaps, first of Romola's, 
that ripple of living bronze in a shadowy 
room. Almost as quickly one sees another 
head, weighted with gypsy locks, abundant, 
ominous with rebellion from its first appear- 
ance, in the earliest pages of the "Mill on the 
Floss," "hair usually straight an hour after 
it had been taken out of paper," and inces- 
santly tossed "to keep the dark heavy locks 
out of her gleaming black eyes." More gay 
and gracious come to us the tresses of earlier 
girls, sweet girls that, singing to the tune of 
May, go floating through mediseval poetry, 
crowned like Emelyc with daffodil gold 
"brayded in a tresse, 
Behynde hir bak, a yerde long, I gease." 

It is not alone the ladies who have hair 
highly decorative; there are men with heads 
equally unforgettable. Chaucer's pardoner 
had 

"heer as yellow as wei 
But smooth it heeng as doth a strike of flax; 
By ounces henge his lokkea that he hedde; 
And therewith he his shoulders overspradde. 
But thine it lay by colpons oon and oon." 

A comparison of hair male and female in- 
stantly brings to mind Auntie Hamps, whose 
head, like all the rest of her, indicates a char- 
164 



acterdeliciously compounded of splendid ma- 
tron and robust young man. Auntie Hanips's 
tresses, feminine in arrangement, still suggest 
the vigor and abundance of Samson's. Her 
circumstantial coiffure is "ample as a judge's 
wig. From the low forehead the hair was 
parted exactly in the middle for about two 
inches; then plaited bands crossed and re- 
crossed the scalp in profusion, forming behind 
a pattern exceedingly complicated, and down 
either side of the head, now behind the ear, 
now hiding it, now resting on the shoulders, 
now hanging clear of them fell long multi- 
tudinous glossy locks." Clearly we call to 
memory Auntie Hamps's face not as a whole, 
but by the curls that compass it about. 

As our recollection continues to dwell on 
the emphasis of particular features, we be- 
come overwhelmed by eyes, eyes from every- 
where, eyes so varied and so compelling that 
one hardly knows which to choose for illus- 
tration, immortal Becky's immortal green, of 
course, and from a more recent novel, dear 
Jimmy Jevons's : " his very large and conspicu- 
ous blue eyes glittered with a sort of passion. 
He wore those eyes in his odd little ugly face 
like some inappropriate decoration," a dec- 
oration upon which his father-in-law, before 
conversion, poured manly contempt, saying 
l6s 



FACES IN FICTION 

that Jevons's eyes would "look better in a 
pair of earrings than In Jevons's head," 

By some chance, or perhaps through some 
intentional artifice, we by no means always 
visualize those eyes that we are made most 
intensely to feel. Poet or story-teller makes 
us aware of eyes, as he himself was aware of 
them — shape and color lost in the luminous- 
ness of the soul ashine in its window. Thus we 
do not see, but shall forever love, as Camoens 
loved them, the eyes of Catrina, "sweetest 
eyes were ever seen." Another lover has given 
us a line as vivid for color as it is exquisite for 
suggestion of character, 

"Eyes of fire and bramble-dew," 

One questions why there are not more 
mouths to remember from one's reading, see- 
ing that in real life the mouth is so often the 
arresting trait, the one whose meaning is 
hardest to disguise, whether that meaning 
be pride or pathos, petulance or peace. As I 
think of portraits in books, the mouth that 
first flashes to my mind is a tortured one, but 
self-controlled, as one would expect from 
Galsworthy's pen. In the sketch, "A Chris- 
tian," "the mouth, always gently smiling, 
as if its pinched, curly sweetness had been 
commanded, was the mouth of a man cruci- 
^66 



J 



L 



FACES IN FICTION 

fied, yes, crucified." Perhaps the reason that 
novelists do not dwell more on mouths is that 
they give us so much data for lips in what 
comes out of them that we should not need 
any further assistance in imaging them for 
ourselves. 

As one's study goes to and fro over fiction, 
one discovers that the making of faces has 
been a progressive art. It is only within the 
last fifty years that writers have taken much 
thought for exact individualization. This does 
not mean that there is not many a counte- 
nance that gleams alive from the dim and 
dusty past: David's, the ruddy, dreamy boy, 
summoned from the sheep pasture at Sam- 
uel's command; Rebecca's, meeting Isaac; or 
from the Greek Bible, Hector's, tender with 
fatherhood beneath war's helmet; but the 
point to be noted is whether these faces 
were made for us, or whether we have made 
them for ourselves. Can we discover line or 
word by which to verify our impression of 
form and feature? The great artists of the 
past created the personalities, but the faces, 
did they actually paint them? 

Homer, busy with the affairs of gods and 
heroes, bothered himself very little about 
physiognomy. He describes by means of the 
genericepithet, always labeling Athena "gray- 

167 



IN FICTION 

eyed," or a slave-^rl "fair-cheeked," a sym- 
bolic device, giving us the correct indication 
of character, but leaving us to fill In the out- 
line with our own particularization. In medi- 
JEval romance description is as little individ- 
ual as in ancient epic. Epithet is expanded to 
a stereotyped catalogue of charms, always re- 
peated when a lover enters, crisp hair, bright 
cheeks, bright eyes, smiling lips — often we 
could hardly tell whether the face belongs to 
man or maiden j but the sex is quite unessen- 
tial to our fancy's activity. The poet's pur- 
pose is to paint for us a face set to the mood 
of love and May, for the rest we are free to 
make our own details. Not by their faces, so 
little differentiated, but by words and actions 
highly significant, do we conceive for ourselves 
our own finely particularized portraits of those 
exquisite lovers, Aucassin and Nicolette. 

The sharp individualizing of faces was a 
process not developed until long after the 
individualizing of characters was well estab- 
lished. The novels of 1750 to 1850 give us 
plenty of friends who grip us with personal- 
ity, but they appear upon the scene wearing 
masks as generic as those in a Greek tragedy 
— the beautiful young girl, the capable ma- 
tron, the old man. There was a time when 
novel-writing required each entering char- 
168 



FACES IN FICTION 

acter to be placarded with a certain amount 
of conventionalized description, a time when 
we expected a certain number of pages to be 
skipped if we were to get our money's worth 
from a novel. At this period conversation was 
as conventional as were faces. There was in 
the treatment of both a kind of convenient 
symbolism. People did not actually look or 
speak as represented, and every reader knew 
it, but both appearance and words, being 
stereotyped, were accepted as giving the cor- 
rect general impression of the man and the 
mood, and a reader expected to use his own 
imagination for all further particulars. Not 
that faces as quick with life as any in liter- 
ature do not come to us from before the mid- 
dle of the nineteenth century, but in general 
we find that we have constructed the features 
for ourselves; the creator occupied himself 
only with the soul. 

From 1850 on, one can observe a conscien- 
tious preoccupation with body as well as with 
spirit, so widespread that it becomes worth 
while to study the differing style and method 
of different story-tellers. The two great paint- 
ers of background. Hardy and Conrad, pre- 
sent an interesting comparison in their treat- 
ment of faces. It is to be expected that the 
supreme master of the fusion of background 
169 



FACES IN FICTION 

with character would portray faces whose 
chief quahty is that they can draw into them- 
selves, and focus, all the power and all the 
mystery of place. Against the wild, whisper- 
ing twilight of Exmoor Heath, there flame 
forth as vividly as if they were supernatural 
the crimson lineaments of the reddle-man — 
"his eye, which glared so strangely through 
his stain, was in itself attractive, keen as that 
of a bird of prey, and blue as autumn mist." 
One cannot think of the faces in Hardy's 
novels except as seen against a setting as sig- 
nificant as the face itself, a bank of wind- 
wracked cloud, the dusky, gleaming wain- 
scot of a village tap-room, Hardy's faces grow 
naturally out of their background, as in- 
digenous as the gorse upon the moors. Con- 
rad's portraits, on the other hand, are always 
exotic. The setting he gives is as vivid to the 
eye as Hardy's, and it is equally significant 
for the influence it is felt to have upon char- 
acter; but it is not native to the face it serves 
to accentuate, it is alien. A picture by Con- 
rad is always a picture of the homeless, people 
who move against a background of myste- 
rious shipping or of a black African forest. 
Their faces are fateful for their power either 
to be conquered by their malign environment 
or to conquer it! 
170 



FACES IN FICTION 

You cannot visualize Hardy's or Conrad's 
faces, as separate from their setting. In sharp- 
est contrast to both is Meredith's manner of 
making his faces so mobile that all back- 
ground is forgotten. No other author is so 
fine an analyst of a glance. 

"Now she kept her mouth asleep and her 
eyes half down, up to the moment of her near- 
ing to pass, when the girl opened on him, as 
if lifting her eyelids from sleep to the window, 
a full side-look, like a throb, and no disguise 
— no slyness or coldness either, not a bit of 
languishing. You might think her heart came 
quietly out. 

"The look was like the fall of light on the 
hills from the first of morning — just the 
look that wins observant boys — they read 
Browny's meaning: that Matey had only 
to come and snatch her; he was her master, 
and she was a brave girl, ready to go all over 
the world with him." 

While Meredith can see and make us see 
every shape and shade of feature, it is the 
dance of the sou! over this surface that allures 
his craftsmanship; he is absorbed by the ki- 
netic rather than the static qualities of the 
face under his pen. 

Second to Meredith in his attention to 
mobility is" James, with the difference that he 
171 



does not, like Meredith, interpret for us the 
play of light over features, but leaves us to 
guess its meaning, baffling and provocative. 
This method with faces is but part of James's 
larger method of letting us look at his char- 
acters not from the author's standpoint, as 
Meredith or Thackeray, but only from the 
Btandpoint of other people in the story. 

Of present writers Hewlett can flash forth 
a countenance in the quickest and fewest 
words. He is particularly good at reproducing 
the tone and texture of skin; for example — 
"her skin dazzling white at the neck ran into 
golden russet before it reached the burnt 
splendor of her cheeks." Hewlett shares with 
Meredith the device of the suggestive figure 
of speech, but with the difference that Mere- 
dith's simile emphasizes the significance, as 
in the comparison of the schoolgirl's glance 
to the dawnlight on the hills; while Hewlett's 
comparison is usually employed purely as an 
aid to visualization, as when he likens a subtle 
Itahan head, bowed and watchful in the dusk, 
to a silver coin glimpsed against the dark. 
Hewlett's best pictures belong to his Italian 
period, as if the clear-cut lineaments were the 
fruit of an imagination quickened to its keen- 
est Intensity by both the dream and the reality 
of Tuscany. 
17a 



FACES IN FICTION 

As physiognomists, writers can be readily 
divided into two groups, those that view 
faces subjectively only, and those that see 
with both the outer and the inner eye, per- 
ceiving on the one hand, all externals of color 
and shape, as sharply as a photographer, and 
on the other, penetrating the meaning of 
mouths and eyes as subtly as a portrait- 
painter. An arbitrarily grouped trio, related 
only by their objectivity, shows Chaucer, 
Browning, and Hewlett as never losing their 
sense of the outside of things. The portraits 
of the "Prologue" come to us finished in 
every external detail, yet the significance of 
such detail in revelation of spirit is equally 
memorable. To choose from Browning only 
one from a hundred passages in proof, in the 
"Flight of the Duchess" we see the actual 
physical transformation of the gypsy's bleared 
eye-sockets to a burning, mesmeric blaze ex- 
actly as vividly as we feel her mystery and 
majesty of soul. 

There are at present two curiously con- 
trasting tendencies in picturing faces. As mag- 
azine writing is reduced more and more to 
efficiency and the clipping-away of the ex- 
traneous, the face in fiction tends to disappear 
altogether, as unnecessary. This process is 
occurring at the same time that incident, 

»73 




characterization, and conversation become 
constantly more artistic in their verisimili- 
tude. Drama, on the contrary, has developed 
a painstaking elaboration of physiognomy, 
not of course in the actual text, but in pref- 
ace and stage direction. The practice was be- 
gun by Ibsen, but not many of us when we 
think of Hedda remember that "her com- 
plexion is pate and opaque. Her steel-gray- 
eyes express an unruffled repose. Her hair is 
an agreeable medium brown, but not par- 
ticularly abundant." Circumstantial as is 
this description. It does not compare for ex- 
pansion, as we all know, with the detailed 
presentment with which Shaw seeks to pre- 
vent our imaginations from making any mis- 
take about his dramatis personte: 

"The slim shapely frame, the elegant suit 
of new mourning, the small head and regular 
features, the pretty little mustache, the frank 
clear eyes, the wholesome bloom on the youth- 
ful complexion, the well-brushed glossy hair, 
not curly but of fine texture and good dark 
color, the arch of good nature in the eye- 
brows, the erect forehead and neatly pointed 
chin, all announce the man who will love and 
suffer later on." 

How would Shakespeare ever have got 
down to the business of play-writing if before 
174 



FACESIN FICT70N 

he began he had had to do all that work for 
the reader's fancy? Shakespeare is something 
of an authority on the psychology of readers 
and spectators. Writers who wish to draw 
faces may well go to him for illumination. 
One wonders, for example, what Shakespeare 
would have thought of the influence of the 
movie "close-in" as affecting face-portrai- 
ture in present-day fiction. The cinema has 
accustomed people to contortions of passion 
magnified to square-yard dimensions; does 
this practice make readers more sensitive to 
the subtleties of a face exhibited only in 
words, or less so? Do the giant exaggerations 
of the screen tend to make the imagination 
more receptive to the novelist's miniatures, 
or less so? 

Perhaps, after all, the inherent qualities 
of human fancy in its response to suggestion 
do not change very much from age to age. 
Shakespeare knew more about the reader's 
imagination than any man has ever known, 
and because he knew, he did not describe 
faces. The statement may elicit impetuous 
contradiction, for whose memory is not 
crowded with faces from Shakespeare? But 
did he draw them for us? Search his scripture 
and find out that he did not. Portia, Othello, 
Lear, Juliet — we look vainly for the lines 

175 




in which Shakespeare gives us the portraits 
that are our imperishable possessions. Not 
that Shakespeare could not have painted a 
face — quickly enough he sketched a Cassius 
when he needed him — but for the most part 
he knew that the greatest creators let the 
reader share creation. Shakespeare launched 
into life innumerable souls, but he let ua 
image them for ourselves. Nor can it be 
urged that our sharply defined portraits have 
been got from stage presentation. Our con- 
ception of Hamlet is not Booth or Forbes- 
Robertson or Sothern, no matter how often 
we may have seen these actors. Our picture 
of Hamlet is not even Shakespeare's, scant 
as that is; for though we have Queen Ger- 
trude's word that her son was fat, every one 
of us conceives Hamlet's soul as clothed in a 
rapier-like delicacy of body. Left to ourselves 
with the creations of romance we can improve 
the conditions of actual life; we can fit face 
to spirit in such true relation as poor breathing 
clay, in its clumsy caricature of soul by shape, 
can never do. It is the perfection of Shake- 
speare's portraiture that he lets us have a 
part in it. Even under extremest temptation 
he did not blur our mental image by impos- 
ing upon it his own. He painted a marvel- 
ous barge which, itself embellished by every 

■76 



beauty of his fancy, carried down the Nile the 
most beautiful woman in history, but the 
woman he did not picture; he let us conceive 
unaided the wonders that for himself frankly 
beggared description. 

Of all the haunting faces that circle through 
the fancy of a story-writer need he struggle 
vainly to paint any to his reader? Shake- 
speare's example not only disproves the ne- 
cessity, but enjoins us to desist from the at- 
tempt. One other supreme story-teller proves 
the vanity of attempting to describe a face. 
The most beautiful face in all fiction has 
throbbed with life for three thousand years, 
yet only the puniest poets have ever at- 
tempted to describe it. Its creator never d d. 
He only told of the wondering awe of old 
men before that face, the face they should 
have hated for the ruin it brought them. 
Homer never described the face of Helen, and 
perhaps that is the reason why it has been 
so real a face for thirty centuries, and why 
every poet who came after has been free to 
utter his own passion for 



"the starry 



■ immortal eyes"; 



"the face that launched a thousand ahipB, 
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium." 



FACES IN FICTION 

If Homer had made finite by description 
the loveliness of Helen, perhaps young Kit 
Marlowe would never have risen to the high- 
est praise ever given to any face by English 
literature. 



BACKGROUND PAST AND PRESENT 

MANY of us to-day have our little cures 
for the contemporary. When familiar 
creeds go crashing, and the daily foundations 
of our feet quake and rumble, we have our 
avenues of escape. Birds and books and 
babies are not yet infected with Bolshevism. 
Despite the portentous problems that oppress 
us, spring still pipes gayly through the green- 
wood and youngsters make merry with the 
violets. But while nature is still reassuring, 
that other familiar refuge, a book, has become 
an insecure retreat. A novel used to be a 
method of splendid forgetting, but to-day we 
have reason to complain that most of the 
people in contemporary fiction are unreal. 
They do not move with human abandon; 
they are puppets by which we refuse to be 
duped, much as we yearn for the release of 
romance. 

Probably the novelist is as conscious of 
his inadequate portraiture as we are. It Is not 
his fault if both hia own hand and the char- 
acters he depicts lack the large, free gesture 
of older days. The real trouble is that to-day 
both artist and picture have no stable back- 
179 



ground. We know how hard it is to distinguish 
the movement of a train except by reference 
to stationary objects. Fielding and Thackeray 
drew men in action against the static land- 
scape of an accepted social order. The present 
prevalence of earthquake both weakens the 
artist's hand and in any faithful picture of 
the times confounds the movements of the 
actor with the movements of the scenery, so 
that we cannot focus attention on him, being 
preoccupied with observing the roof about to 
collapse upon his head. Both in fact and in 
fiction background has become intrusive, so 
that by its engrossing interest it relegates the 
people in the drama to mere automata. No 
wonder that the old gusto of loving or hating 
an imaginary person has become impossible 
for either author or reader. 

In earlier novels fiction-shapes stood out 
boldly against the surrounding stability; their 
actions and reactions showed forth vigorous 
and impressive. The background of any story 
may be resolved into several elements, each 
forming part of the foundation upon which 
fiction folk live and move and have their be- 
ing. Of these foundation elements, actual 
place, with all its power to shape personality 
and to suggest atmosphere. Is prominent. No 
less important is the period depicted, com- 
i8o 



I 



BACKGROUND 

prising the social conditions governing the 
career of any individual; the common work- 
aday creed and convention of his time and his 
town must show forth as affecting a hero's 
behavior. These elements of background can 
be instantly recognized if one remembers the 
painstaking attention to each shown in Ben- 
nett's "Old Wives' Tale." Another part of 
background is less visible, namely, the writer's 
own philosophy of life, which consciously or 
unconsciously supplies the structure of selec- 
tion beneath the external setting. Yet how is 
a story-teller to-day to find a stage-scene se- 
cure enough for contrast with a character's 
emotions and actions? Revolt has always been 
a fertile theme for fiction, but in a revolution- 
ary period you cannot discover any condition 
solid enough for any one to rebel against. 
You could not to-day emphasize a man's 
atheism, as once in Edna Lyall's "Donovan"; 
too few men are sure of God. You could not 
emphasize a woman's divorce; too many 
women are divorced. You cannot depict re- 
volt against any convention unless it is se- 
curely established. 

Perhaps it is impossible to have confident 

and convincing protrayal of character when 

all the background of faiths and customs is 

being tossed and tested both for people in 

l8i 



BACKGROUND 

novels and for people out of them. Yet we 
who would find some poise in a reeling uni- 
verse still hunger for the peace that is due us 
from books. A sharp line of cleavage may be 
observed to-day between readers who are so 
Intrigued by the enigmas of the present that 
they cannot read any books of the past, and 
readers who are so oppressed by these same 
enigmas of the present that they cannot read 
any but books of the past. Susceptibility to 
background is the essence of both attitudes; 
the first that of people repelled by the smug 
security of former fiction, and the second 
that of people helpless with hysteria before 
our own volcanic present. For both classes no 
saner means of orientation is to be found than 
the attentive study of the background of 
earlier novels. With a sure instinct for equi- 
poise, many a doughboy in his dugout de- 
manded a deep draught of Dickens; we who 
are called on to hold the bewildering Front 
Line of Reconstruction should have the same 
brave detachment and sane appreciation. 
Both the readers and the writers of novels 
■will return to a contempiation of real life with 
surer self-security after they have walked for 
a while along the unhurried farm-lands of 
George Eliot, or in the little villages of Jane . 
Austen, impregnable in provincialism. 
i8a 



BACKGROUND 

In view of their conscientious attention to 
social and economic questions, it is perhaps 
unkind to say to many present-day novelists 
that a novel should deal primarily with per- 
sons, not with problems. If you are to portray 
characters that shall seem alive, you must 
subdue background to its proper subordinate 
function, you must impress enough firmness 
upon your landscape to contrast clearly with 
the action of your people. To attain this trick 
of seeming security when the actual contem- 
porary scene is heaving, is a hard task for any 
story-teller. One way of success is by empha- 
sizing those elements of background that are 
less subject to disturbance than the others. 
Specific place can be made so prominent that 
the actuality of mountain and moor may off- 
set the flux of creeds and conventions un- 
escapable in a transitional era. This is the 
supreme achievement of Thomas Hardy. His 
characters move across the pages with com- 
pelling vitality, not because either he or they 
possess the old security of faiths and codes 
unquestioned by Fielding and Smollett, but 
because their actions are silhouetted against 
the brooding immobility of Exmoor. 

Another element of background that may 
be intensified to give the requisite of realism 
is harder to attain. The personal philosophy 

183 



\CKGROUND 

of the writer may supply security to the stage 
structure of his drama. This framework may 
be invisible to the reader's eye. Even the art- 
ist himself may not be fully conscious that he 
is employing it, and yet it will prove to be 
his own conception of the eternal scheme of 
things that establishes the perspective of his 
picture and gives it coherence. Just in so far 
as a novelist's own faith is sanguine and con- 
structive rather than inchoate, will the back- 
ground of his book appear to have solidity. 

The requisite of a serene philosophy is to- 
day equally difficult for novelist and reader. 
Yet both might gain peace and poise by a 
glance at the backgrounds of past fiction and 
of present fact. The earth under our feet is 
perhaps far firmer than we perceive. There 
have been volcanoes before, but when the 
lava cooled, braver cities were built on buried 
ones. Creeds and customs slough their old 
externalities only to attain more vigorous new 
growth. At many a time before in history 
must the background of life have seemed to 
contemporary actors menacing to all tra- 
dition and to all confident behavior. Yet 
never yet has the sky that roofs all our faiths 
fallen on us, nor the earth that gives seed- 
space to our hopes been consumed. All the 
structures of custom built by progress have 
184 



BACKGROUND 

been preserved just so long as people have 
kept them sanitary. When the house of habit 
appears to be toppling, it does not call for 
panic, but for sturdier beams. One conceives 
one's background as ready made for one's 
entrance upon the stage; if the scenery quakes 
and threatens or even bruises by unexpected 
impacts, one thinks this not one's fault but 
one's fate. Yet perhaps there never was any 
period, however chaotic, when a man's back- 
ground was not chiefly of his own making. 



A PORTRAIT FOR THE 
CONTEMPORARY 

BY way of escape from the contemporary 
may one advise spending a week-end in 
eternity with Anne Elliot? One returns from 
"Persuasion" to the crashing surges of the 
present, calmed by the company of a woman 
who was anchored. One finds that Anne 
Elliot's serenity preserves one from the buf- 
fetings of a world crisis as successfully as it 
solaced Anne herself for daily fret; for her 
personal and private existence was in itself a 
shabby affair. Jane Austen seems to have 
taken positive pleasure in portraying a clever, 
tender, capable woman in surroundings su- 
perlatively dull and distasteful and loveless. 
Being twenty-seven, Anne belonged to that 
class of respectable outcasts scorned by her 
generation — she was an old maid. She was 
despised by her family as well as by her gen- 
eration. It is not cheerful to possess a father 
who does not like your looks, and a sister 
who has every reason to be satisfied with hers. 
While it is depressing to have your relatives 
too blind to respect you, it is even more de- 
pressing to be yourself too intelligent to re- 
iS6 



RTRAIT 

spect them. It is not conducive to compla- 
cency to have had a lover and lost him. Yet 
the nicest thing about Anne ElHot is that you 
can't pity her. 

Unobtrusively, yet securely, Anne is on 
top of her circumstances, however much her 
circumstances may batter and bother her, 
and the reasons for her security are simple to 
find. She was a reader, not wide but deep, 
capable of sailing far from self in a book. She 
loved out-of-doors in a real intimacy; when 
fathers and sisters were too futile and fussy, 
she couid slip off and be the friend of the trees. 
The shell of self fell from her easily, so that 
she was a serviceable body whom people im- 
posed upon, and thus she had a good many 
lives to live in beside her own. 

So far Anne Elliot's anchored steadfastness 
13 comprehensible. Books and sky and people 
are an inalienable refuge from the petty and 
personal, but the petty and personal could 
not have been Anne's only trouble, just as 
to-day they do not comprise any one's chief 
obstacle to calm. For years a world war had 
rocked Anne Elliot's universe even as it lately 
rocked ours, and the being she loved best in 
all the world had been constantly exposed to 
war's nameless perils. Anne was a woman well- 
informed and sensitive, and yet one may 

187 





A PORTRAIT 

be intimate with her and with her author 
from cover to cover of books eternal in their 
humanity, and yet not so much as guess 
there had ever been a Waterloo. Women sent 
their men to war in those days, but how many 
women, or men either, knew what the war 
was about? A hundred years have wrought 
miracles in that to-day we think in world 
thoughts, are moved by world movements, 
and throb to world emotions. 

Yet shall any one undervalue Anne Elliot's 
service to the world because she seems to 
limit her interests to so small a part of it? 
Anne Elliot belongs with those women who 
are always better for their background, who 
need their setting, who belong in houses old 
enough to have shaped themselves to their 
owners, women who love the old gardens 
handed down to their tending. One reason for 
the sense of repose such women give is that 
we know them rooted to gentle old places, 
familiar with mellow walls and perennial 
flower-beds. Anne was a home-lover, a home- 
maker. It is true that we meet her just as she 
is leaving her old home, and we part from her 
before she has made herself a new one, but all 
the time we see her slipping in and out of 
other people's homes, by her presence evok- 
ing the inherent coziness and content that 



A PORTRAIT 

without her would not have been perceived. 
Siie lived in other people's lives because her 
own was too lonely to live in. In her circle 
Anne was everybody's aunt, a relation much 
more sympathetic, because less proprietary, 
than being everybody's mother. 

As a recent novelist describes a heroine as 
"not aggressively married," so one might 
describe Anne Elliot as not aggressively ■un~ 
married. Any man could, and did, tell her 
his troubles without being afraid she would 
fall in love with him. Rarely — not more than 
two or three times in the book — does any 
man stop talking about himself long enough 
to look into his listener, and to wonder what 
are his secret-sharer's own secrets. Yet Anne 
can talk when other people will let her, draw- 
ing on deep funds of observation and of wis- 
dom. She has the gift of understanding her- 
self without pitying herself, and more than 
that, the gift of being as tolerantly amused 
at herself as at other people. She has the 
charm of a reserve which attracts friendship, 
but which friendship docs not even wish to 
disturb. She is a woman fathomless in the 
profundity of her peace. She is a subtle 
woman wise enough to be simple. 

Anne Elliot and Jane Austen were both 
women big enough to live in world terms if 




A PORTRAIT 

they had wanted to, but they chose to live in 
littleness rather than in largeness. Yet theirs 
Is a visioned littleness. Does any reader think 
the interests of author and of heroine ought 
to have been in 1814 a good deal nearer the 
battle-front of contemporary history.^ Is it 
being insensitive to the world's distress if one 
tries to-day to build more securely than ever 
a citadel of peace in one's own soul, bulwark- 
ing it with the beauty of every common thing? 
Perhaps God and his world can aflFord to 
keep a few women like Anne Elliot and her 
creator far from the tempestuous present, 
women who cannot be profitably uptorn from 
their anchorage in calm for the benefit of any 
transient clash of classes. Perhaps Anne El- 
liot and Jane Austen are citizens of eternity, 
who serve all time by keeping inviolate the 
sanctuary of a home and a heart at peace. 



VICTUALS AND DRINK IN 
JANE AUSTEN 

HAVE you ever observed, in reading Mis9 
Austen, how frankly and frequently 
people eat? They are unashamed of food, 
soberly putting through a full day's victual- 
ing. They breakfast none too early, for Cath- 
erine Morland on her first morning at North- 
anger is awakened by the sun at the cheery 
hour of eight; and it is a hardship worthy of 
note that William Price, entering on his lieu- 
tenancy, must be up and off by half-past nine. 
The breakfast menu is slurred over for the 
most part. In the leisurely breakfast-room of 
Northanger Abbey, that humorous old scoun- 
drel, General Tllney, sips his cocoa and reads 
his newspaper. At Mansfield they breakfast 
on eggs and cold pork, for WiHiam and Craw- 
ford are breezily off and away, after the man- 
ner of gentlemen, leaving their cluttered plates 
of shells and bones for Fanny to cry over. 

If breakfast is a somewhat unemphatic 
meal, not so the mid-morning collation, al- 
ways served to visitors. These refreshments 
vary In kind and quality. While Miss Craw- 
ford plays away the morning, harping to 
191 



VICTUALS AND DRINK 

Edmund Bertram, her attendant brother-in- 
law assiduously plies the sandwich-tray — love 
is not above bread and butter. Even the in- 
decently humble Miss Bates can offer a caller 
sweet cake or baked apples from the buffet. 
But this is mere sit-about-as-you-please re- 
freshment; at Pemberley, the abundance of 
the feast calls for more decorum. The "en- 
trance of the servants with cold meat, cake, 
and a variety of all the finest fruits in season," 
interrupts a most awkward and chilly call. 
Yielding up the ghost of conversation, the 
company cheerfully gathers around the table 
loaded with "beautiful pyramids of grapes, 
nectarines, and peaches," well worth the price 
of a bad half-hour. 

Dinner is a meal of which the hour is not 
exactly determined, seeming to be shoved at 
pleasure to one side or the other of four o'clock. 
At dinner the stand-by is mutton. There is a 
surfeit of mutton in English literature. It is 
boiled mutton usually, too. Now, boiled mut- 
ton is to my mind a poor sort of dish, unsug- 
gestive, boldly and flagrantly nourishing — 
a most British thing; it will never gain a 
foothold on the American stomach or imag- 
ination. But the Austenite must e'en eat it. 
Roast mutton is a different thing. You might 
know Emma Woodhouse would have roast 
192 



VICTUALS AND DRINK 

mutton rather than boiled; it is to roast mut- 
ton and rice pudding that the Httle Kneight- 
leys go scampering home through the wintry 
weather. 

The manner of serving dinner arouses some 
questioning. Mrs. Bennet does not invite 
Bingley to dinner impromptu, "for though 
she always kept a very good table, she did 
not think anything less than two courses 
could be good enough for a man on whom she 
had such anxious designs, or satisfy the appe- 
tite and pride of one who had ten thousand a 
year." The two-course dinner with which 
Jane's lover was afterward honored comprised 
venison, soup, partridges, and, I surmise, des- 
sert. One queries at just what item in the 
menu the dinner was broken into two courses. 

Dinner over and the gentlemen's wine- 
drinking done, the company must have tea 
and coffee in the drawing-room, served with 
substantial accompaniment of cake. Coffee 
would appear to have been an unfcminine 
thing, for it never appears in the after-dinner 
equipage unless there are gentlemen present. 
The tea function varies in formality. At cere- 
monious Mansfield it is ushered in by "solemn 
procession, headed by Baddelcy, of tea-board, 
urn, and cake-bearers." It is all much pret- 
tier and cozier at Longbourn, where Jane 
193 




VICTUALS AND DRINK 

Bennet makes the tea, and Elizabeth pours 
the coifee. 

But the most savory meal in Jane Austen is 
the supper that rounds off a social evening. 
No hungry balls for Jane Austen's doughty 
dancers, but draw up and sit down, all of you, 
and eat in earnest of cold ham and chicken, 
rout-cakes and ices, and if you are a frail- 
strung Fanny be flushed and "feverish with 
hopes and fears, soup and negus." These are 
ball-room refreshments; for utter toothsome- 
ness commend me to a little Woodhouse sup- 
per, when the "table is set out in the drawing- 
room and moved forward towards the fire" 
— suggestive, this last. It warms the very 
palate to read of that minced chicken, the 
scalloped oysters, the apple tarts, the custard, 
the wine, the muffin. There is nothing nig- 
gardly about Emma Woodhouse; husbands 
for Harriet or food for the hungry, she is al- 
ways a good provider. 

Thus the day's eating. However, you must 
still, if you would fulfill your whole duty, sip 
a glass of warmed wine before you go to bed 
and sink into the deep slumber of the bounti- 
fully nourished. 

For the most part Jane Austen treats food 

frankly qua food, aliment for aliment's sake 

and no bones about it, but the victualing of 

194 



VICTUALS AND DRINK 

character may be put to more subtle use. The 
fluctuations of the appetite may indicate an 
emotional crisis, I reckon up four notable 
heroines who promptly "go off their food" 
under amatory discomforts. Of these Mari- 
anne Dashwood is the most prominent, of 
course — perfectly proper of Marianne. Yet 
one sympathizes with Mrs. Jennings's mis- 
directed attentions — poor Mrs. Jennings, 
who cannot "cure a disappointment in love 
by a variety of sweetmeats and olives and a 
good fire"! Perfidious Willoughby, to work 
such havoc with a young lady's digestion! 
Marianne Dashwood could not eat, but Jane 
Fairfax would not. Don't tell me she could 
not have choked down her mutton and saved 
a solicitous aunt and grandmamma much 
anxiety, if she had wanted to! I never did 
like Jane, — she was close-mouthed and con- 
trary, and I don't believe she was nearly so 
pretty as Emma. 

Even that buoyant child, Catherine Mor- 
land, can be laid low by love, and when re- 
proved for some chatter about the beatific 
French bread of Northanger, replies from 
utter heights of woe, "It is all the same to me 
what I eat." 

But the love-PfrjMj-Dutriment motive has 
fullest treatment in the story of Fanny Price. 
195 



VICTUALS AND DRINK 

Quite early in the history of her heart we find 
that when miffed at her rival's attentions, 
this sensitive maiden, if cousin Edmund is 
not there to mix her bedtime wine and water, 
"would rather go without it than not." I am 
glad that Miss Austen is not above sustaining 
the most spirituelle of her heroines on this 
nightcap toddy. 

To me the most agonizing scenes to which 
Miss Austen ever works herself up are those 
that picture Fanny Price's visit home. Here 
Miss Austen for once tries to harrow, tries to 
do her worst — and that worst is — disgust- 
ing food, supreme emblem and expression of 
the sordidness, vulgarity, and shiftlessness of 
the family of Price. With positive revulsion 
the novelist draws that nauseating picture of 
"the table, cut and notched by her brothers, 
where stood the tea-board never thoroughly 
cleaned, the cups and saucers wiped in streaks, 
the milk a mixture of motes floating in thin 
blue, and the bread and butter growing every 
minute more greasy than even Rebecca's 
hand had first produced it." This after the 
venison haunches of Mansfield! It is starva- 
tion or surrender with Fanny now, and if 
Crawford had not misbehaved, dear knows 
what might have happened ! When a delicately 
reared heroine is reduced to a diet of baker's 



VICTUALS AND DRINK 

buns, It IS enough to drive the most faithful 
heart to matrimony. It must have gone hard 
with Miss Austen to starve a heroine, for, 
like Emma Woodhouse, Miss Austen is a good 
provider. Sometimes you might think her 
more careful after the stomachs of her people 
than after their souls — so much the better 
for them and for her. 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

NATHANIELBAILEY, mtrodudng him- 
self and his dictionary to the world 
in the year 1721, appends to his title-page 
the following advertisenieiit:"youth Boarded 
and Taught the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin 
languages in a method more Easy and Ex- 
pedient than is common; also other School 
learning, by the Author of this Dictionary, to 
be heard of at Mr. Battey's, Bookseller, at 
the Sign of the Dove in Paternoster Row." 
Those were days of easy familiarity between 
a lexicographer and his public, when a man 
might turn you off a dictionary on one day 
and be teaching your "youth" the next. Days 
of pleasant littleness, those of the eighteenth 
century, when the world was England, and 
England was London, and London a clubful 
of little great men. Then a dictionary was a 
mere book written by a mere man; It had not 
swelled beyond the scope of a folio or two 
at most, or beyond the compass of a single 
personality. 

It is true that in the impersonal wastes of 
Murray or the Century, the penetrating 
reader may sometimes chance upon what 
19S 



.lANlN THE DICTIONARY 

imagination may surmise to be the flash of a 
person and a self, but on the whole one may 
say that Noah Webster was the last to leave 
the impress of an individuahty upon the bar- 
ren moors of lexicography. It was all quite 
otherwise in the days of Sarah Morc's rapture 
over an introduction to "Abyssinia's John- 
son! Dictionary Johnson! Rambler's, Idler's, 
and Irene's Johnson!" For the greatest of 
these is Dictionary Johnson. 

Johnson's Dictionary is no dull reading, 
whatever Becky Sharp may have thought to 
the contrary. From Plan and Preface straight 
on through the unwieldy volumes down to Z, 
one finds a delightful sense of tlie romance of 
words. They take life and march and move 
briskly under the vivacious symbolism em- 
ployed in the pages of the introduction. One 
looks for nothing dead or dusty in a diction- 
ary whose maker sneers at low terms as "the 
spawn of folly or affectation," who looks 
askance at "the immigrants who change their 
manners when they change their country," 
and has but a qualified welcome for the new 
terms of art and science, "for some of them 
arc naturahzed and incorporated, but others 
still continue aliens, and are rather auxil- 
iaries than subjects." The dullest etymologist 
could not fail to be fired by the tramp and 
199 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

surge of battle suggested by Johnson's im- 
agery when he writes, "When I survey the 
plan which I have laid before you, I cannot, 
my Lord " (that Right Honorable Philip Dor- 
mer, Earl of Chesterfield, of equivocal fame), 
"but confess that I am frighted at Its extent, 
and, like the soldiers of Csesar, look at Britain 
as a new world, which it is almost madness 
to invade. But I hope that though I should 
not compleat the conquest I shall at least 
discover the coast, civilize part of the inhab- 
itants and make it easier for some other ad- 
venturer to proceed farther, to reduce them 
wholly to subjection and settle them under 
laws." Poetry and patriotism are enshrined 
in that small paragraph, as they are in Web- 
ster's preface of 1828, for Dictionary John- 
son was a patriot and a poet. 

But Johnson's introduction to his great 
book reveals also how his pitiful inertia 
tugged down the poet's soarings. "Hopeless 
lexicography" sighs feelingly in adventuring 
"the boundless chaos of a living speech." 
The weight of the lean years of labor at 17 
Gough Square oppresses the buoyant vision 
of the great accomplishment. Never a lazier 
man lived than Samuel Johnson, and never 
a braver worker. The reader, marching down 
through the alphabet side by side with John- 
200 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

son, feels with him the romance of this word- 
conquest shadowed by the "dreams of a poet 
doomed at last to wake a lexicographer." 

We of a different day in scholarship may 
have at least the good manners not to smile 
at Johnson's regard for his own laboriousness 
nor yet at the perilous superficiality of eight- 
eenth-century research, for it is not the schol- 
arship, but the man himself, that makes the 
scholar. Many a plodding etymologist of 
to-day might envy the ease of Johnson's 
"perhaps" or "I suppose." It would be a 
task congenial to our statistical tendencies to 
reckon up the occurrence of "perhaps" in 
Johnson's derivations. There is personality 
enough evidenced in those same derivations 
and it is characteristically expressed in the 
cool enunciation of the principle proclaimed 
in selecting the words of the dictionary: "I 
have omitted many because I have never 
read them; and many I have Inserted because 
they may perhaps exist, though they have 
escaped my notice"; and also In the frank 
acknowledgment, some words there are 
which I cannot explain because I do not un- 
derstand them." There would be something 
racily audacious in that modern scholar who 
would dare to define "Isabella color" as "a 
kind of color," a definition commendably 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIOWX^ 

stimulating to the reader's curiosity; or to 
dismiss "marigold" thus casually, "a yellow 
flower devoted, I suppose, to the Virgin." 
What a delightful period for the imaginative 
student when an unchallenged invention 
might suggest as the history of "gibberish," 
"as it was anciently written gebrish, It was 
probably derived from the chymical cant and 
originally implied the jargon of Geber and 
his tribe." Every one knows the famous defi- 
nition of "pastern" and Johnson's reply when 
questioned for a reason for this signal achieve- 
ment of inaccuracy, "Ignorance, madame, 
pure ignorance." Enviable days when a 
scholar was big enough to be ignorant of his 
own specialty. 

In that primrose period of dictionary-mak- 
ing a lexicographer was quite untrammeled 
by any sense of historic grammar, and had 
the free use of a lusty imagination; and so far 
from being contemptuous, I for one own to 
being forever grateful for the results. There 
is something ticklingly risible in "me" as "a 
humorous expletive," illustrated by the quo- 
tation, 

"He presently, as greatness knows itself. 

Steps me a little higher than his vow, 

Made to my father." 

An irreverent fancy suggests the flutter of 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

tissue skirts and the audacities of frolicsome 
little slippers keeping accompaniment to the 
solemn organ tones of the greatest Puritan 
when one reads under "kickshaw," "this 
word is supposed, I think with truth, to be 
only a corruption of quslque chose, something; 
yet Milton seems to have understood other- 
wise for he writes it kick-shoe, and seems to 
think it used in contempt of dancing." Doubt- 
less Johnson's subtlety saw the Incontrover- 
tible relation between a baby and a blanket, 
but our feebler Insight is not quite convinced 
by the derivation of "brat," "a child, so 
called in contempt. Its etymology Is uncer- 
tain. Bratt in Saxon signifies a blanket, from 
which perhaps the modern signification may 
have come." Regard also the compressed 
tragedy in the brief history of the word "an- 
timony": "Basil Valentine, a German monk, 
tried it on hogs, who fattened. Therefore he 
imagined his fellow monks would be the better 
for a like dose. The experiment, however, suc- 
ceeded so ill that they all died of it, and the 
medicine was thenceforward called antlmoine, 
anti-monk." There is a right Johnsonian touch 
under "knuckle, I suppose from an odd cus- 
tom of striking the under side of the table 
with the knuckles In confession of an argu- 
mcntal defeat." One wagers poor Bozzy's 
203 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

knuckles were rasped often, but the Doctor's 
never. An enchanted forest, forever barred 
to the circumspect huntsman after words 
to~day, is suggested by the word "lair"; "lai 
in French signifies a wild sow or a forest; the 
derivation is easy in either sense, or from 
leger, Dutch." 

From time to time there flash from the lexi- 
con-pages gleams of the personality which 
are as convincing as any anecdotes in Boswell 
and as savory of personality as those that 
Boswell himself selected in illustration, the 
list that includes the historic "oats" and 
"pensioner" and "lexicographer." "Giggle" 
is defined in a manner both restrained and 
caustic, "to grin with merry levity. It is still 
retained in Scotland"; and equally reminis- 
cent of personal prejudice is "scelerat," a 
word "introduced unnecessarily from the 
French by a Scotch author." There is an Epi- 
curean toothsomeness in the description of 
"acqua mirabilis"; "the wonderful water is 
prepared of cloves, cubebs, mace, cardonums, 
nutmegs, and spirit of wine, digested twenty- 
four hours, and then distilled. It is a good and 
agreeable cordial." The kitchen-connoisseur 
takes issue with the ignorant man of letters 
proclaiming "kettle" "a vessel in which 
liquor is boiled. In tlie kitchen the name of 
204 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

pot is given to the boiler that grows narrower 
towards the top, and of kettle to that which 
grows wider. In authors these are con- 
founded." " Kicksy-wicksy, a made word in 
ridicule and disdain of a wife," somehow re- 
calls the wicked mimicry by which the 
naughty, irresistible David Garrick revealed 
to others the clumsy conjugal demonstra- 
tions of his former school-master, revelations 
known to David only by means of the key- 
hole. Every Johnsonian rejoices in the vehe- 
mence with which a dunce is chastised as "a 
dullard, a dolt, a thickskuU, a stupid, indocile 
animal." After shuddering with Swift in the 
"Journal to Stella" through the evil-beset 
night streets of London, one is relieved by the 
cursory manner with which the hearty Doc- 
tor of a later time dismisses the Mohocks to 
the realm of imagination, for "mohock" is 
merely "the name of a cruel nation of Amer- 
ica, given to ruffians who infested, or rather 
were imagined to infest, the streets of Lon- 
don." It was Johnson the man and Johnson 
the scholar who could phrase in such nice 
antithesis the meaning of "tawdry": "splen- 
did without cost, fine without grace, shewy 
without elegance"; or of "lampoon"; "cen- 
sure written not to reform but to vex." And 
the burly honesty of Johnson thunders 
205 




THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

through the analysis of compliment as "an 
act or expression of civility, usually under- 
stood to include some hypocrisy or to mean 
less than it discloses." 

Preface, plan, definition, and derivation 
constantly lay bare the sturdy fiber of moral 
purpose that runs through the book. It was a 
time when the scholar might turn preacher, 
and the preacher might turn scholar at any 
moment, and neither recognized any why-not 
about the "swift counterchange." It waa 
partly the eighteenth-century conscience and 
partly the Johnsonian conscience that could 
appreciate so nicely the moral responsibility 
of a dictionary as to be studiously circum- 
spect in the mere selections of citations. The 
authorities quoted must prove their eligibility 
to appear in the sober. God-fearing society of 
Johnson's definitions and derivations, for he 
"would not send people to look for words in 
a book that by such a casual seizure of the 
mind might chance to mislead it forever." 
Armed with the supreme authority of the lex- 
icographer, Johnson does not hesitate to cast 
the frankest doubt and aspersion upon the 
names of the great, who, in spite of their emi- 
nence, may wantonly misuse a word. Milton 
is called to account under "lackey": "I know 
not whether Milton has used this word very 
206 



1 



properly," for the careless poet has declared 
that "A thousand liveried angels lackey her." 
Shakespeare is arraigned still more roundly, 
and here I think one glimpses Johnson's ha- 
tred of sentimentality. The word is "ake"; 
"frequently applied in an improper sense to 
the heart; as the heart akes; to imply grief or 
fear. Shakespeare has used it still more licen- 
tiously of the soul." The list of authorities is 
not so varied but that the same names occur 
frequently enough for the reader to piece to- 
gether citations and form an impression right 
or wrong of the man and the book whence 
the quotations derive. In introducing his 
volumes Johnson apologizes for the admis- 
sion of some favorite name, and the frequent 
appearance of Goldsmith and Garrick in the 
dictionary would without other evidence in- 
dicate the place of those two men in the big 
doctor's big heart. In addition to Shakespeare, 
another Elizabethan contributes delightful 
snatches of love-making from his Arcadia as 
when he bequeaths the verb "ghost"; "Eu- 
ryalus, taking leave of Lucretia precipitated 
her into such a love-fit that she ghosted." 
Browne's "Vulgar Errors" gives some quaint 
suggestive terras regrettably obsolete upon 
our lips to-day — that is a charmingly mouth- 
able word of his, '* bombilation," noise. 
207 




Fhe man in the dictionary 

Peacham on Drawing supplies much matter 
not seeming to bear directly on the title of 
his book; for example, the interesting ethno- 
logical item that "satyrs, as Pliny testifies, 
were found in times past in the Eastern Moun- 
tains of India." L'Estrange is a favorite in 
citation, and surely both lexicographer and 
reader must sympathize with his trials when 
he complains that "it is one of the most vexa- 
tious mortifications of a studious man to have 
his thoughts disordered by a tedious visit." 
But among all the quoted, a very prince of 
sensationalism is one Wlfeman, On Surgery. 
One's eye goes traveling down the columns 
to find and follow that vigorous practitioner 
to his blood-curdling clinics. The most un- 
suspected words reveal some scene of bone- 
setting or blood-letting that chills the stom- 
ach. One remembers that "knap" means "to 
strike so as to make a sharp noise" when the 
ears of fancy have heard Wifeman reduce 
" shoulders so soon that the standers-by heard 
them knap before they knew they were out." 
From time to time Wlfeman suggests catas- 
trophes fit for expansion by yellow journal- 
ism. One's humane curiosity Is sorely tried 
by Wiferaan's brevity when all one knows of 
a certain cook-maid Is that she "by the fall 
of a jack-wclght upon her head was beatea 
2oS 



THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

down," or by the following item, supplied by 
a word seemingly so unprovocative to fancy 
as "bedpost," "I came the next day and 
placed her in a clear light, her head leaning 
to a bedpost, another standing behind hold- 
ing it steady"; and then what happened? and 
what had happened before? and for what did 
Wifeman come prepared? We shall never 
know. But Johnson had Wifeman's book be- 
fore him and he knew the end of every story 
— is there a hint of sly teasing that he cuts 
the reader off thus mischievously in the very 
midst? He was capable of so doing or I much 
mistake. But I do not grudge to Dictionary 
Johnson any facetiousness that may have 
spiced for him his monumental labor. For if 
sometimes he laughed, also and often he prayed. 
Prayer was such a common custom in those 
days that they prayed even over making a 
dictionary, and without the slightest apology 
either to the Almighty or to the public for so 
doing. At one time Johnson could write in 
ironic humor, 

"The drudgery of words the damn'd would know. 
Doomed to write lexicons in endless woe," 
and again with equal genuineness pray to 
the "Giver of all knowledge, enable me so to 
pursue the study of tongues that I may pro- 
mote thy glory and my salvation." 




THE MAN IN THE DICTIONARY 

For a little while I have been with John- 
son's Dictionary, but for that little while I 
am very sure that I have been with Samuel 
Johnson himself, and I come back to the pres- 
ent with regret that the world has grown so 
big that a man can never again put himself 
into a dictionary. 



ROBINSON CRUSOE RE-READ 

THERE is at present an irruption of 
desert islands upon the ocean of ro- 
mance. If the words "desert island" still sug- 
gest to us the spell of Crusoe's country and 
of Crusoe's company, a brief consideration 
of his cheery solitude will reveal how deeply 
his character and his conduct differ from those 
of the shipwrecked hero of to-day. 

It is surprisingly delightful tore-read "Rob- 
inson Crusoe." The charm is not merely that 
of happy memories revived. The book has 
power to hold the attention vitally, no mat- 
ter how many times perused. However jaded 
our imagination, it is always stirred by that 
inert figure on the desolate shore, as it slowly 
wakes to realization and to action. A man set 
free by fate from all the conventions, all the 
conveniences, all the complexities of civiliza- 
tion, Crusoe sets to work, industriously as a 
baby beaver building a dam, to reestablish 
all his bonds. If one is to tame a desert is- 
land, it is well to have a solid British ship- 
hold and a solid British upbringing to begin 
with. Robinson Crusoe constantly employs 
the resources of both these in evolving his 



ROBINSON CRUSOE RE-READ 

simple cavc-dwelling and his more compli- 
cated colony. 

How anxiously we scuttle the ship in Cru- 
soe's company! How momentous the decision 
what articles will be most necessary! With 
unerring perception of his needs, Crusoe 
selects not what will make him comfortable, 
but what will keep him busy. Thus he comes 
to possess what keeps the reader busy, also, 
simple tools without technicalities. The least 
mechanical of us can follow the manufacture 
of a boat made by means of an edge and an 
axe. It needs a little education to appreciate 
Cellini and his Perseus, but it needs none to 
appreciate Crusoe and his pottery. Clumsily 
and joyously we assist him while he makes 
his chair, his baskets, his great hairy um- 
brella. We are unembarrassed in the presence 
of a man who can say of his clay jars so pa- 
tiently achieved, "as to the shapes of them 
they were very indifferent, as any one may 
suppose, when I had no way of making them 
but as children make dirt-pies." Perhaps 
there is no bond in friendship comparable to 
sharing the imagination that goes to the mak- 
ing of mud-pies. He holds our affection for- 
ever, the person who has helped us make 
dreams out of dirt. They are sorry fellows 
who, grown-up and gray, cannot still feel 



ROBINSON CRUSOE RE-READ 

the fun of sharing Crusoe's victories over 
nothingness. 

As we yield to the spell, we hardly know 
whether it is Crusoe who has built his home, 
or we. We seem somehow to have slipped into 
his skin, Robinson Crusoe is boy eternal, 
which is one way of saying that he does not 
possess an individuality to interfere with the 
substitution of our self for his. Because Rob- 
inson Crusoe is so unobtrusive and so busy 
with his own domestic affairs, there is room 
for us upon his island, and we shall always 
revisit it, while we travel but once to the 
fancy's isles of present fiction. A shipwrecked 
hero to-day is no Crusoe, comfortably color- 
less; rather he is a man, and sometimes a 
woman, whose personality is so vigorous that 
it shoves the reader quite off the island, back 
into the ocean, and home again to the hum- 
drum. 

Both Crusoe's island and the desert islands 
of to-day exhibit the actions and reactions 
of a human being suddenly set loose from all 
the bonds of custom, a free and naked soul, 
left entirely to its own devices in the prac- 
tice of decency and decorum. For Defoe the 
resultant struggle with surroundings was a 
purely material one, the surmounting of 
objective, practical difficulties; for the ro- 
213 




ROBINSON CRUSOE RE-READ 

mancer of to-day, the struggle is one of soul 
with soul-stuiF. The reader is embarrassed 
by the raw revelations of the hero's heart, 
as it riots without restraint under tropical 
influences and tropical impulses. With Cru- 
soe, however artlessly he confides his sins to 
us, we are always aware of his normal self- 
control. Crusoe is a true Britisher in the fact 
that he fastens upon himself the fetters of 
convention when there is no law present to 
do so for him, and equally a Britisher in the 
fact that back in tight little England he felt 
cheerfully free to resist authority. Crusoe is 
always essentially a boy; his instinct toward 
decency is that of a wholesome boy. 

Crusoe shows his youthful vitality in his 
respect for order both inside his own soul and 
outside of it. He says his prayers and makes 
a table and later makes a colony, convinced 
of the rightness of all these things. Youth is 
always conservative, luckily for a world of 
witless grown-ups. Present-day Crusoes are 
introduced to us freed from all restraint, and 
throughout their story they remain thus. 
Such men have no mud-pie instincts. If they 
make pottery, it is with the purpose to ex- 
hibit their souls in grapple with circumstance; 
there is no joy in the Jar for itself, poor heart- 
harried creatures that they are. Neither is 
314 




IINSON CRUSOE RE-K 



there any delight for them in making citizens 
out of savages. A writer no longer finds it 
necessary to introduce savages into his des- 
ert; rather he lets his hero revert to savagery 
himself; for we of to-day are not so cock-sure 
as Crusoe that civilized man is superior to 
a savage after all. The Admirable Crichton 
alone, in Barrie's exquisite satire, had Cru- 
soe's convictions of law and order, and the 
energy to establish an ideal community on 
a strictly English pattern. Shipwrecked he- 
roes usually make no effort to reestablish the 
old life from which they have been deliv- 
ered; they do not believe in the good old 
world, so they do not try to take it again upon 
their shoulders; instead, they attempt the 
heavier burden of making a world to fit their 
own wills. Any boy with as much common 
sense as Robinson Crusoe would know better 
than that. 

The greatest difference between Crusoe's 
island and our later ones is that his is sub- 
ject to convention, but not to complexity. 
Nowadays a man is tossed on a desolate shore 
to wake up freed from all the external com- 
plications of social existence, but inextricably 
bound by the complications of his own char- 
acter. There is a yet subtler and sorrier cir- 
cumstance which distinguishes the contem- 



■ bound by the 

I acter. There i; 

K cumstance wh 



ROBINSON CRUSOE RE-READ 



F 

^^^ porary wilderness from Crusoe's. The novel- 

^^M^ ist of to-day does not dare to do without a 

^^B lady. In this respect Defoe and Crusoe had 

^^V the courage of their convictions. Theirs is a 

^^r sexless world. True, Robinson Crusoe gets 

^H him a wife in good time, but she is merely a 

^B proper middle-class convention, and no clog- 

^H siiig soul-mate, and besides he disposes of 

^M her promptly with no prodigal waste of emo- 

^M tion. Crusoe, even up to seventy years, con- 

^M tinues essentially a boy and a ceUbate. Now 

^M the trouble with our later desert islands for 

^M grown-ups is that they are not desert at all, 

^M for there is always a woman on them. Whether 

^P the shipwrecked hero remains on his island 

or is rescued, the fate that was washed up 
with him never afterwards relinquishes him. 
Happy Crusoe, whose privacy was invaded 
merely by cannibals, conventional cannibals 
needing only conventional treatment, but 
whose soul was never attacked by that great- 
est modern complexity, not amenable to any 
conventional treatment — woman! 




SHAKESPEARE ON THE SERVANT 
PROBLEM 

ONE thing that makes the world of 
Shakespeare such a pleasant place for 
the imagination to inhabit is the absence 
there of many small frictions that fret our 
own day. "The spacious time of great Eliza- 
beth" had no servant problem, We should 
miss from Shakespearean drama some of its 
most delightful scenes if the terms "master 
and man," "mistress and maid," were not 
as unquestioned as the relation they imply. 
Outrageous fate may beset hero and heroine, 
but there is always somebody to cook for 
them and to brush their clothes; tragedy is 
cushioned by the constancy of hands always 
ready to solace the body of the sufferer, and 
of hearts, however humble, faithful unto 
death. 

The servitor's own prerogatives are as 
enviable as his superior's. People may be 
poor, but who so poor as not to have mistress 
or master to provide lodging and food and a 
jealous protection ? Yet for Shakespeare serv- 
ants are servants — the social life he portrays 
is rollicking with good-fellowship, and yet 
217 



SHAKESPEARE ON SERVANTS 

■ rigid with caste. Whatever its restrictions 
domestic service in Shakespeare's time had 
advantages that might go far toward solving 
the problem of domestic service to-day. It 
had for one thing the comfort of abundant 
companionship. It is at a merely middle- 
class door that Dromio of Ephesus knocks 
when he calls upon his fellow servants to let 
him in, "Maud, Bridget, Marian, Cicely, 
Gillian, Ginn." Six maids to answer the door- 
bell represents a merely normal retinue, aa 
does Miranda's nursery equipment: . 
Miranda. Had I not four or five women to attend on 

Proipero. Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. 
In the emergency of entertaining, a much 
larger quota was demanded. One sees old 
Capulet dispatching one servant to invite 
the wedding guests, and in the same breath 
speeding another, 

"Sirrah, go hire me twenty cunning cooks"; 
and yet the poor man frets, 

"We shall be much unfurnished for this time." 
In this crowded companionship of the 
servants' quarters Shakespeare reveals to us 
a merry little world revolving in sub-plot 
passages far below the burdened tread of his 
tragedy or the romantic dance of his comedy. 
2i8 



1 



SHAKESPEARE ON SERVANTS 

One could not help commending Sir Toby 
Belch's preference for the jollity of the serv- 
ants' hall to the companionship of a love-stck 
if high-born niece. That pleasant place, with 
its pranks and plots, its quick wit and song 
and capering dance, gives us the most unfor- 
gettable of all those pictures of below-stairs 
in which English literature is so rich. In the 
servants' quarters of Shakespearean scenes 
food and fun and smart livery are always in 
plenty. Shylock alone is niggardly of these, 
dismissing Launcelot to his new master with 
the warning, 

"Tbou shall not gonnandise; 

Aa thou haat done with me: . . . 

And sleep and Enore, and rend apparel out." 

People well fed, well housed, well clothed 
and companioned, were also never so over- 
worked that their feet could not trip in a 
dance, nor so subdued that they could not 
troll a catch at any moment. 

True they have their little failings. They 
get delightfully drunk. They are past-masters 
in extracting tips. They are often sycophantic 
in studying the master's mood for the sake 
of their own advantage. They enjoy a free- 
dom of speech that makes us gasp. Mistress 
and master rarely go the way either of silli- 
ness or of sia unrebuked. A Shakespearean 
_ai9 




•m 

links of ^^M 




SHAKESPEARE ON SERVANT^ 

Bervant tells his master what he thinks 
him, and possibly this privilege might be 
considered worth the price of any servitude. 

Employers, of course, have their rights, and 
they are very different from their rights of 
to-day, for the whip is common, but dismissal 
rare. It was a robust age, and hands and heads 
were used to cuffing. However quick with 
chastisement a master may be, he is equally 
quick to resent any violence done to his serv- 
ant by another. Any dishonor shown to an 
underling is by all the social code considered 
as dishonor intended for the master, and on 
this hypothesis the latter may always be d&- 
pended upon to act. 

The confidence a servant may have in his 
master's championship is equaled by the con- 
fidence a master may have in a servant's 
honesty. It goes without question that a 
lackey should carry his master's purse. In 
the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," Julia shows 
an all-inclusive confidence in her Abigail 
when she declares, 

"All that is mine I leave at thy dispose. 
My goods, my lands, my reputation." 

The family servant is always the chief of 

counselors. Juliet's renunciation of the nurse's 

advice for her own initiative is a significant 

220 



I 



sign of her sudden growing-up. Julia, debat- 
ing a hazardous course, appeals to her maid: 

"Counsel, Lucetta, gentle girl; assist me; 
And even in kind love I do conjure thee, 
Who art the table wherein all my thoughts 
Are visibly charactered and engraved. 
To lesson me and tell me some good mean 
How, with my honor, I may undertake 
A journey to my loving Proteus," 

In these crises it seems to be the part of the 
maid first in all honesty to recommend a ra- 
tional plan to her deluded mistress, and hav- 
ing thus done to assist with loyal duplicity 
the romantic course embarked upon. 

A servant yields freedom of action only 
thus far, that he will, protesting, assist in 
foolishness, but will never acquiesce in crime. 
Lady Macbeth's attendant is tender with 
pity, not hostile with revulsion. Pisanio, 
charged by his master to do a dastardly deed, 
disobeys with the dominant motive of thus 
doing better service to his misguided lord. 
As Shakespeare saw it, the responsibility of 
servant to superior demanded a personal no- 
bility as great as that demanded by the re- 
sponsibility of superior to servant. 

As one thinks of the various households of 
Shakespearean drama, one recognizes at once 
certain types of Elizabethan domestics, as 



SHAKESPEARE ON SERVANTS 

wcH as certain salient individuals. The office | 
of steward must have been an anomalous and I 
ungrateful one. Shakespeare makes its repre- I 
sentatives unattractive. The most prepos- 
sessing is the least formal, Justice Shallow's J 
Davy. Davy reveals the reason for the stew- | 
ard's unpopularity with his own servants' 
hall as plainly as does Fabian in accounting 
for his dislike of Malvolio — "You know he 
brought me out of favor with my lady about 
a bear-baiting here." A steward does not j 
seem to be allowed any direct means of pun- ' 
ishment; he can but report delinquencies. His 
power depends entirely on his influence with 
his superior. Davy is not slow to use his, when 
he frankly begs the justice's lenience toward . 
a. friend in the dock: 

"I have served your worship truly, sir, these eight j 
years, and if I cannot once or twice in a quarter bear I 
out a knave against an honest man, I have little credit | 
with your worship. The knave is mine honest friend, s 
therefore, I beseech you, let him be countenanced." 

That a steward was neither master nor man I 
shows clearest in Malvolio, both in the re- 1 
sentment of his fellows, and in the fact that j 
he alone, of the long Shakespearean retinue, J 
exhibits a desire, significantly punished, to I 
rise above his station. 

The most frequent type of underling to I 

222 



met on the Shakespearean stage is the page, 
with his grace, his charm, his youth, his rat- 
tling wit. The manners expected of a page are 
best revealed by the requirements recognized 
when maidens assume the disguise. Rosalind 
delights in "a swashing and martial outside," 
Imogen is directed to change 

"fear and niccnesa 



Ready in g 
As quarreic 



. into a waggish courage; 

bes, quick-answered, saucy and 



sthev 



se!." 



To please his patron the page must have 
not only a quick tongue, but a musical one. 
Viola's chief recommendation to Orsino's 
service is that she 

"can sing 
And speak to him in many sorta of music 
That will allow me very worth his service," 

By far the tenderest portrait of a page 
is that of Lucius, Brutus's boy-servitor, as, 
weary but still faithfully trying to sing and 
soothe his master, he nods to sleep in that 
haunted midnight tent. 

The pathos of Lucius's youth contrasted 
with the tragedy it yearns to lighten reminds 
us of another lad, also faithful to the end, the 
young fool in "Lear." Sadder than any sing- 
ing are the quips of his brave young lips. 
223 



p. 



: SERVANTS 

Lear's fool is true to the last to the conven- 
tions of his calHng. Of all other types of 
Shakespearean servant we can find examples 
of survival to-day, but not of the fool. No 
matter how large a retinue a modern house- 
hold may possess, the jester is never consid- 
ered a necessary luxury. His place to-day is 
perhaps taken by the comic supplement. 

Of all human types to be met either in lit- 
erature or in life there is none on which the 
memory dwells more wistfully than on that 
of the old family servant. Shakespeare gives 
us two signal examples, Orlando's Adam and 
Juliet's nurse. One remembers that the part 
of the faithful old man was one that Shake- 
speare himself liked to act. It is amusing to 
note that even in Orlando's day there was the 
same outcry against changing fashions, and 
a harking back to a golden age of devotion; 
"0 good old man, how well in thee appears 
The constant service of the antique world, 
When service sweat for duty, not for need! 
Thou art not for the fashion of these times 
Where none wiU sweat but for promotion. 
And having that, do choke their service up 
Even with the having." 

Juliet's nurse, with her vulgar mind, her gar- 
rulous tongue, her petty tyranny, her petty 
dignity, her hearty humor, and her great 
224 



shakestpEare on servants 

love, Is a figure as familiar for Its comedy 
as her mistress's for Its tragedy. As one of 
Orlando's most attractive qualities is his ten- 
derness for Adam, so one of Juliet's is her 
patience with her nurse. Both boy and girl 
show clearly that consideration for the old 
servant Is part of the code of manners and 
morals embodied in an Elizabethan education. 
Juliet's nurse is a member of that readily 
recognizable group of Shakespearean ladies- 
in-waiting, Julia's Lucetta, Olivia's Maria, 
Desdemona's Emilia, Portia's Ncrissa. More 
than other domestics, the lady's-maid shows 
by her complete identification with the house- 
hold and her friendship with all its guests the 
social solidarity of an Elizabethan menage. 

As one studies the servants in Shakespeare's 
plays, one recognizes the rigidity of the Eliza- 
bethan caste system, but recognizes as clearly 
its externality. Superficially master and man 
belong to different ranks; fundamentally they 
belong to only one. Did Shakespeare perceive 
that the solving, not alone of the servant 
problem, but of all social problems, lies in the 
human, the personal relation? Shakespeare 
and Elizabethan England, for all their aristo- 
cratic trappings, were profoundly democratic, 
They believed that it was perfectly possible 
for tlie servant to be a better man than his 
225 



SHAKESPEARE ON SERVANTS 

lord, and in a society thus believing what 
man or woman would mind being a servant? 
Shakespeare never denied a servant all the 
rights due to personality. If one had lived in 
those days one would have had good reason 
to choose, as Shakespeare on his stage chose, 
a servant's part. He has portrayed no gentler 
gentleman than Adam. In Shakespearean 
England there are bad masters and bad serv- 
ants, but no class hostility. Shakespeare and 
his England were too wise for that, and too 
human. 




A BOY IN A BOOK 



A SIXTH reading of the "Egoist" has 
but renewed for me, I find, my first de- 
light in a radiant Uttle personality, namely, 
that most engaging of small boys, young 
Crossjay Patterne. He flashes from Meredith's 
pages, all sun-warmed and healthy, tonicy as 
a sharp breeze, swift on the wing as a bird, 
and trusty as a baby oak sprouting from 
wholesome English soil. Mischievous little 
scapegrace that he is, Crossjay is a very 
nursling of old Nature herself, and Meredith 
makes us feel for him a grown-up's reverence 
before the mystery of growth. The blossom- 
ing of his funny Uttle plans and purposes 
comes to have the sacredness and wonder of 
springing leaves or bird wings that lift sky- 
ward. Willoughby's influence on others never 
shows so sinister as when it threatens to per- 
vert the sweet and rosy sanity of the little 
lad, and never does the vesture Willoughby 
was weaving for himself, industriously as 
Andersen's demon-tailors wove the Em- 
peror's new clothes, show as so pitiful a dis- 
guise as when we see the soul within through 
Crossjay'a keen young vision, 

227 




Never a youngster came dancing into a 
book with a more instant charm than Cross- 
jay, this "boy of twelve, with the sprights of 
twelve boys in him"; this rosy-cheeked, 
round-bodied rogue of a boy, who fell upon 
meats and puddings and defeated them, with 
a captivating simplicity in his confession that 
he had never had enough to eat in his life." 
In the instant we meet Crossjay, strange 
things are happening to our staled ears and 
eyes. In a trice we are off and away with him 
where wandering lanes cajole our runaway 
feet, where clear bird-calls tease us to essay 
the wind-rocked nests, where quaint flowers 
to be gathered for a lovely lady lurk in un- 
explored hollows, where sweeps of dewy lawn 
sparkle in the first sun and a keen race makes 
us tingle after the shock of the early dip in 
the lake; and then the taste upon our tongues 
of Crossjay's breakfasts afterward — "rash- 
ers of curly fat bacon and sweetly smoking 
coffee; toast; hot cakes, marmalade and dam- 
son-jam"! And even as he guzzled in the 
housekeeper's room, just beyond the window 
there still stretched the world of wonders 
compelling truancy, and also, in mistier dis- 
tance, a world of fighting ships and brave 
men, such as Lord Nelson and one's father. 
No wonder that tike the others who loved 
2a» 



A BOY IN A BOOK 

him we are eager to pack him off to school, 
away from Patterne Hall, lest any tips from 
a noble kinsman, of crown-pieces or corroding 
flattery, should dim Crossjay's "fresh young 
sense of sweet." 

Crossjay's charm for us is so great that we 
need no other explanation of the sway he un- 
consciously exercised over people and over 
plot. Examine the mechanism of this last 
and you will find the youngster to be of 
pivotal importance. Two ladies stipulate fair 
treatment of the penniless little scapegrace 
as the condition of their accepting a noble 
gentleman's hand; from beginning to end 
Crossjay's name labels the issue between 
Willoughby and Clara, between Lsetitia and 
Willoughby; Vernon wins a runaway maiden 
back to prison at Patterne Hall all for Cross- 
jay's sake; and whose eavesdropping but 
Crossjay's, involuntary as that of a drowsy 
kitten, betrays to the world Sir Willoughby 
Patterne's crucial treason? 

In his relations to the other persons in the 
novel, Crossjay is one of those touchstone 
characters who bring out the best or worst 
in everybody. At his entrance, Letty Dale's 
pallid life, Vernon's meager one, are quick- 
ened to energy and courage. What had been 
a negative unselfishness in both is vitalized 
229 



I 



V 



to a parental intensity. And as for Crossjay 
and Ciara, what sunnier pictures in all 
Meredith's prose or poetry than the two 
skimming the green lawns in a race, or poised 
hand in hand beneath the blossoming cherry- 
tree — so young, so young, the two of them ! 
There was as much of pure boy in the "dainty 
rogue" as there was in Rosalind. There is a 
hint of fairy poetry in Clara's relations with 
Crossjay, there is all the woodland whimsi- 
ness of Puck in the way the boy and girl dart 
out upon each other from green covert. Of 
all the stanch knights sent forth of Heaven 
to succor sweet ladies in peril, none ever 
carried truer message of safety and hope than 
little Crossjay did to Clara. After a racking 
night the clear morning voice of Crossjay 
floats up to her window, "Oh, the dear voice! 
woodpecker and tlirush in one. He never 
ceased to chatter to Vernon Whitford walk- 
ing beside him with a swinging stride off to 
the lake for their morning swim. Happy cou- 
ple! The morning gave them both a freshness 
and innocence above human. They seemed to 
Clara made of morning air and clear lake 
water. . . . She felt like one vainly trying to 
fly in hearing him; she felt old. The consola- 
tion she arrived at was to feel maternal. She 
wished to hug the boy." 
230 



jritbY 



IN A BOOK 



The apprchensiveness with which Clara 
clings to Crossjay as a chaperon would have 
melted a less stern heart than Sir Willough- 
hy's, but it merely irritates the courtly bar- 
onet as much as it puzzles Captain de Craye. 
Bewildering it must have been to these gen- 
tlemen to discover that a fair lady could love 
a little boy better than either of their capti- 
vating selves; but then this little boy was 
Crossjay. There is abundant humor in Cross- 
jay's offices as a chaperon, as effective as they 
were unwitting, for if the blundering urchin 
had been a matchmaker as astute as beneii- 
cent could he have mated people better than 
he did? For Crossjay did it all. 

It is by their relations to Crossjay that the 
contrast between Vernon and Willoughby is 
revealed to Clara: Vernon, the Spartan task- 
master, resolute to hold a slippery truant to 
his books despite a broken head; Vernon, no 
less tender than stern in his reverence before 
the small growing thing entrusted to his tend- 
ing; selfless and fine in his endeavor to inten- 
sify the natural impulses of the boy's brave 
inheritance to a sturdy ideal of service and 
of dauntless patriotism; and Willoughby, by 
contrast, is at first engaging in his graceful 
playing with the boy, until that very playing 
to Clara's accusing eyes becomes sinister in 
231 




S BOY IN A BOOiS 

its influence toward idleness and irresponsi- 
bility, and the blight of Willoughby's con- 
versation with the boy shows in all its ugliness 
when Crossjay says, *"Naval officers are not 
like Sir Willoughby.' 

'"No, they are not,' said Oara; 'they give 
their lives to their country.' 

"'And then they're dead,' said Cross- 
jay. 

"Clara wished Sir Willoughby were con- 
fronting her, she could have spoken." 

Crossjay Patterne is the most complete 
study of a child in Meredith's novels, and as 
such, best exemplifies the two attributes 
Meredith accords to youth, in his analysis of 
childhood and adolescence, the innate good- 
ness and the innate insight of boys and girls. 
Provided a youngster comes of good stock he 
had much better be left to do his own grow- 
ing. The child may do a little experimenting, 
but on the whole his appetite may be trusted 
to find healthy food both material and moral. 
Plenty of sun and air and exercise for body 
and brain, and then, as you value your own 
soul and his, let the boy alone! Meredith 
never varies in the opinion that for healthy 
growth school is a better place than home, for 
the impartiality of discipline allows some 
privacy to the sprouting soul, and no im- 
2$Z 



' A BOY IN A BOOK 

pertinent grown-ups are always pulling it up 
by the roots for family inspection. Meredith 
brings his boys and girls into the world sound 
and sane, and the schoolmaster is the person 
he most trusts to keep them so. Through 
Leetitia's lips he protests against home influ- 
ence for Crossjay; "He is in too strong a 
light, his feelings and his moral nature are 
over-excited." In Meredith we never feel the 
fate of inheritance, but nobody ever made 
us feel so sharply the fate of influence. The 
blight of Willoughby'a shadow might have 
darkened to the tragedy of Sir Austin's upon 
Richard, but for our Crossjay the shadow 
passes, though not without our shudder at 
the thought of the other boy. Meredith's 
optimism fixes our attention on the sacred- 
ness of pliability. The grown-up should be 
the gardener with responsibility of pruning- 
knife and watering-pot, but far more with 
reverence before the mystery of growing 
things, sprouting from secret depths old as 
earth and human nature, and rising to un- 
known expansion. 

It is the saving grace of Crossjay that 
makes the "Egoist" an optimist's book and 
not a cynic's. It is a mark of Meredith's 
wholesomeness that throughout the book he 
makes a child's point of view the criterion of 
233 



judgment. From the first Crossjay sees straight 
into the heart of men and women and things, 
and his shrewd httle comments are a racy- 
delight. Crossjay has the sure child-insight 
in which Meredith believes, has as direct a 
vision as Sandra Belloni, also at her entrance 
a child, and as Sandra is an excellent foil for 
tlie mawkishness of the Poles, so is Crossjay 
a foil for the selfishness of Willoughby. It was 
a child who caused the undoing of the Em- 
peror, naked in his invisible raiment, and at 
the last it is before a child's true eyes that 
Willoughby must cringe shivering in his rent 
disguise. But beneath the child's eyes that 
saw to the inmost, Sir Willoughby still 
marched bravely on to matrin^ony. The Em- 
peror, also, strutted the procession through; 
doubtless the Emperor, too, like Sir Wil- 
loughby, "had a leg." 

As a contrast to the stunted, abortive 
growth Sir Willoughby Patterne had made 
of the English manhood that was his inher- 
itance, Crossjay's upsprlnging youth holds 
our hope. We do not need Dr. Corney to 
point to the boy as the true heir of the sturdy 
Patterne stock. Having seen the malignity 
of Sir Willoughby's influence removed from 
the boy's clear future, we wave the urchin 
farewell as he is haled schoolward, confident 
234 



A BOY IN A BOOK 

with Dr. Corney that "this boy, young Squire 
Cross jay, is a good stiflF hearty kind of a 
Saxon boy, out of whom you may cut as gal- 
lant a fellow as ever wore epaulettes." 



AMERICANIZATION AND WALT 
WHITMAN 

AMERICANIZATION is a word now 
frequent in print and on our tongues. 
The past five years have waked us abruptly 
to the fact that our cherished melting-pot 
has in many instances conspicuously failed to 
fuse, and with laudable energy but lamenta- 
ble precipitancy we have rushed to find rem- 
edies. Suggestions for the speediest possible 
making of an alien into an American are 
crowded upon legislators and educators. It is 
no lack of patriotism, but quite the contrary, 
that makes the more thoughtful pause for a 
moment of self-question, as to what are these 
American ideals which we are so eager to 
teach to our immigrants. The American spirit 
does not seem so easy to label when one tries 
to translate it into curricula or laws. Love of 
country is as sensitive an emotion to expose 
to methods of efficiency as love of God. Hum- 
bly one wonders how so beautiful a thing as 
the spirit of America, that spirit for which 
once our fathers and lately our sons have 
died, is to be transmitted to the ignorant 
236 



I 



inTOAN, AMERICAN 



and down-trodden who seek our shores of 
promise. It is the priceless gift we would 
bestow with adoption, but the actual de- 
tails of how to give it make one look about 
helplessly for a textbook, make one ponder 
how to equip teachers to impart so sacred a 
study. 

In a recent "Atlantic" appeared an ar- 
ticle entitled "What America Means to an 
Englishwoman." One pregnant paragraph 
gives a reader pause: "If you ask me what is 
essentially American and could not have been 
born anywhere else, I can only think of 'The 
Education of Henry Adams,' the 'Introduc- 
tion' to Victor Chapman's 'Letters,' and 
Walt Whitman, the Rodin of poetry." The 
juxtaposition of names is provocative, but 
there is no reader who would not agree that 
the last is preeminent in expressing what 
America means to an American. Poet and 
prophet and patriot, Whitman is still the su- 
preme spokesman of American democracy. 
To many of us the poems of Whitman have 
taught more than we could ever otherwise 
have known of our own patriotism; and be- 
cause of their proved inspiration to Ameri- 
cans, they are perhaps best fitted to embody 
for an alien the spirit of his new country. This 
is far from saying that Whitman is not too 

237 



WALT WHITMAN, AMERICAN 

strong a draught to be offered untransmuted 
to a foreigner, but there is no book so well 
fitted to clarify and vivify for the teacher of I 
Americanization his own ideals. 

The mere name Walt Whitman brings an 
instant exhilaration like the sudden sight of 
the Stars and Stripes billowing on the breeze. 
Like the flag his name connotes space, for his 
descriptions touch as vast and varied a ter- 
ritory as that over which the flag floats. Pride 
of place is a foundation element in patriotism, 
the one that constrains it to take certain in- 
dividual forms of expression in national char- 
acter and action and literature. The Swiss is 
moulded by his mountains, the Hollander by 
his dikes, the Norwegian by his mysterious 
dark and daylight; the American, if he is to 
be true inheritor of the land that has been 
given him, needs to tune his soul to wide 
spaces, unchained cataracts, limitless prairie, 
and to cities seething with incredible energy. 
There is no poet but Whitman fitted to be 
the poet of all these United States. His song 
cannot be chained to any one locality. His 
pictures flash on us reminiscence from the 
Adirondacks to Florida, from his busy Man- 
hattan to California. We ton need to be spa- 
cious people like Whitman if we are to be 
worthy heirs, so that we can say with him: 
238 



r 



WALT WHITMAN, AMERICA 

ihale great draughts of space; 
The east and the west are mine, and tlie north 
and the south are mine." 



Genuine patriotism is always expressive of 
place in no vague, but in most specific cor- 
respondence of national character to national 
geography. Not only should vastness and 
variety somehow translate themselves into 
our national qualities, but we should reflect 
in our energy some of the limitless resources 
and fecundity of our land. No poet has cele- 
brated this native energy with more inspira- 
tion for our efforts than Whitman. His farm 
scenes are always busy; "the song of the 
broad axe" rings through his forests; cities 
and factories teem with life. There is no re- 
moteness of reverie about this poet of a pio- 
neer people. He celebrates always a tireless 
activity. Yet American energy as Whitman 
expresses it is never fevered, but always pur- 
poseful. Voicing ideals for industry that we 
should like to cherish and, in spite of his 
sturdy realism, suppressing that sordidness 
of toil which we should like to annul, Whit- 
man always paints work as joyous. For him 
the singing man had not vanished — perhaps 
Whitman's own singing, if only we listen, may 
some day bring him back, as Whitman knew 
him: 

239 





WHITMAN, AMERICAN 

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear; 
Those of mechanics — each flinging his, as it should be, 
blithe and strong." 

Always Whitman viewed the vitality of 
America as essentially a pioneer vitality, the 
health and courage and force of men brave 
enough to build a new world. In Whitman's 
lifetime he saw this pioneer activity chiefly 
applied to actual frontier conditions, but his 
vision reached into the future and imaged 
other frontiers for his nation to adventure. It 
is significant for us to-day that his clarion call 
to courage, "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" should 
be placed under the general heading of 
*'Marches Now the War is Over." To-day, 
when the world is again breathless and spent 
this latest war for freedom, we need 
again Whitman's ringing incentive: 

"Have the elder races halted? 

Do they droop and end their Icsaon, wearied 

:r there, beyond the seas? 
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, 
and the lesson. 
Pioneers! O pioneers!" 

Above all other American ideals for which 
we may turn to Whitman to find expression 
and reinforcement of our own conviction, a 
catholic breadth of hospitality is paramount. 
The United States is an entity fused from 
240 



VALT WHITMAN, AMERICAN 

myriad nations to each of which each of U3 
owes something. No land ever befriended the 
foreigner so generously as ours, and the grace 
of that sympathy is something we must hold 
fast if we are to be worthy of the sacred trust 
of transmitting the soul of America to the 
Eoul of the stranger. Because within these last 
tragic years there has been sporadic abuse of 
our welcome, we must not forget that the 
loyal have outnumbered the traitorous a thou- 
sand to one. We need to turn to Whitman 
that we may more surely recall our clearer 
motives before the heat and hatred of a world 
war. Whitman, too, was fresh from a conflict 
where cruelty and oppression had almost pre- 
vailed, but his sympathy was not abated. If 
some of the strangers within our gates have 
failed us, others by the thousands have braved 
death to vindicate the ideals of our United 
States — and theirs. To these and to others 
of their kind we owe all that we long to bestow 
under the complex and subtle term "Ameri- 
canization." There was no man of whatever 
race or color or country that Whitman's sym- 
pathy could not have found a way to reach : 

"This moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone. 
It seems to me there are other men in other lands, yearn- 
ing and thoughtful; 
It seems to me I can look over and behold them, in 

HI 



WALT WHITMAN, AMERICAN 

Germany, Italy, France, Spain — or far, far 
away, in China, or in Russia or India — talking 
otKer dialects; 
And it seems to me if I could know those men, I should 
become attached to them, as I do to men in my 

O, I know we should be brethren and lovers, 
I know I should be happy with them." 

Of all the pioneer adventure that Whitman 
coveted for his countrymen there was none 
dearer to him than the difficult and daring 
adventure of brotherhood: 

"1 will establish in the Mannahatta, and ia every city 
of these States, inland and seaboard. 

And in the fields and woods, and above every keel, little 
or large, that dents the water. 

Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argument, 

The institution of the dear love of comrades.". 



Over and over again, Whitman's poems 
affirm the New-World welcome to the Old- 
World immigrant: 

"All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, 

indifierent of place! 
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagoes 

of the sea ! 
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me! 
And you, each and everywhere, whom I specify not, but 
I include just the sarael 

Health to you! Good-will to you all — from me and 

America sent." 
243 



WALT WHITMAN, AMERICAN 

For the teacher humble enough to feel that 
he himself needs instruction before he shall 
presume to teach Americanization, there is 
no nobler textbook than the poems of Whit- 
man. If only we can breathe his inspiration 
deeply enough, we may safely leave all the de- 
tails of its application to American efficiency. 
More simply stated, if we can succeed in 
being as good Americans as was Walt Whit- 
man, we shall know how to make good Amer- 
icans of other people. 



POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

FOR SALE — Beautiful poems, 35 titles, 
all new, 3Sfi. Peter Wilson, Junior, R.F.D. 
3, White Mount, Georgia." 

For some weeks this item, persistently re- 
current in my home-paper advertising col- 
umns, has cheered my heart, for I perceive 
that there are others who, like me, regard 
poetry as a commodity worth purchasing. I 
am comforted also to observe that poems 
may still be had cheap; the price of sing- 
ing has not gone up with the price of living; 
where could one buy thirty-five eggs, "all 
new," for thirty-five cents? But when the 
generous "Junior" named his price, did he 
regard himself as a giver or a getter? Exactly 
how does a Parnassian reckon his worth in 
dollars and cents to a Philistine public? 

The relation between a poem and a penny 
needs subtle arithmetic on a poet's part, as 
also it demands some canny ciphering on the 
part of the purchaser. A certain present-day 
poet was once accustomed to leave to the 
buyer's conscience the amount due him. I do 
not know whether this poet still trudges high- 
way and bjnvay as once he did, offering to 

I H4 



OETRY BY THE PENNYWOIt 



sing his rhymes in exchange for bread; but 
when he did so sing, I wonder how it worlced. 
Did he feel that he received his singing's 
worth in supper? Did his listeners feel that 
they received their supper's worth in singing? 
Payment for poetry is a matter as pre- 
carious for the purchaser as for the poet, be- 
cause people who pay good money for verse 
usually have very little money for verse or 
anything else. Only poor people buy poetry, 
or want to. The number of inglorious Miltons 
ia small compared with the number of in- 
glorious Maecenases who would be princely 
patrons of poesy if Providence had not made 
them paupers instead. Rich men are too 
thrifty to risk their dollars on rhymes; and 
unfortunately for that poor man who loves 
a lyric as the drunkard loves a dram, the book- 
seller is also too canny to venture his money 
on the exhibition of any lyric wares not tested 
by time. Bookshop counters do not afford us 
pauper-purchasers the opportunity to taste 
and sample before we buy, since it is not the 
Classics that we want, for long since they be- 
came flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone; 
but we crave the magic and the melody of 
present-day song. Poetry by mail-order is 
hazardous, for often enough some fugitive 
rhyme that has lured us with promise proves 
HS 



POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

the only one of its kind, and the book turns 
blank in our hands, when we had thought 
we were buying beauty, and had gone with- 
out boots and beefsteak to buy it, too! Yet 
whether the result of purchasing poetry from 
a publisher's catalogue, "sight unseen," be de- 
light or delusion, we who have an unquench- 
able thirst for the wine of song will probably 
go on daring our last dollar for the draught 
divine. 

I began to be a drunkard on my seventh 
birthday. On that date there came into my 
life a volume called "The Child's Book of 
Songs." Before that time poetry had rung 
about my head, but somewhat over my head, 
too; now first I entered into my heritage of 
sheer inebriety. At seven I was rawly sensi- 
tive to the Weltschmerz : perhaps a little 
playmate had been whipped; perhaps there 
was sinister crepe fluttering on a neighbor's 
door; perhaps remorse for my sins shook me 
with wild tears — in the "Book of Songs" 
there was glorious forgetting! "Souls of poets 
dead and gone" welcomed me to their Ely- 
slum from a world, even at seven years, too 
grim and gray. That book walked and worked 
and slept and played witli me — always 
alone, for I knew better than to ask any com- 
panion to share my orgies of joy. Alone in 
246 



POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

some secret spot I declaimed "The Battle 
of Ivry," or shuddered as the high tide crept 
up the coast of Lincolnshire, or, daughter of 
Netherby, I was swept from dance-lit hall to 
starlit midnight flight, the bride of Lochin- 
var. Thus first I tippled drink divine; and 
ever since I opened the wrappings of that 
fateful gift-book, to find the wine of wonder, 
every volume of poetry has seemed to me a 
sealed 'flagon of fairy mead. Ever since then 
I have been insatiably athirst; alas for the 
obduracy of life, which always, before I may 
lift the draught to my lips, prosaically de- 
mands, "Show me first your penny"! 

Have you ever pared down a budget with 
a view to buying song with the scrapings — 
deleting furbelows and feathers, and even 
shoe-leather, in order to have perhaps a whole 
frenzied fiver to spend on poesy? For five dol- 
lars you may buy at least three whole poets 
and a fraction of another. Fortunately for 
such as I am, the new wine is still cheap. Only 
the old poctSj long bottled and labeled, are 
put up in fancy editions. For pence blessedly 
few one may envisage Ralph Hodgson's Eve: 

"Eve, with her basket, was 
Deep in the bells and grass. 
Wading in bells and grass, 
Up to her knees. 



t>OETRY BY THE PtSNVP 

"Picture thai orchard Bprite, 
Eve, with her body white, 
Supple and smooth to her 
Slim finger-tips. 
Wondering, listening. 
Listening, wondering. 
Eve with a berry 
Half-way to her lips." 

For less than one round silver dollar one 
may be enwrapped in the wizardry of Walter 
de la Mare: 

"T was autumn daybreak gold and wild. 

When past St. Ann's grey tower they shuffled; 
Three beggars spied a fairy-child 
In crimEon mantle muffled. 



"The daybreak lighted up her face 

Ail pink and sharp and emerald-eyed." 

For but a few shillings one may throb to 
the immortal pulse of Israel in Lola Ridge's 
"Ghetto." Is he not worth buying, her patri- 
arch of the push-carts? 

"His Boul is like a rock 
That bears a front worn smooth 
To the coarse friction of the sea, 
And unperturbed he keeps his bitter peace. 

"What if a rigid arm and stuffed blue shape. 
Backed by a nickel star. 
Does prod him on. 

Taking his proud patience for humility— 
248 



I 



POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

All gutters are as one 
To that old race that has been thrust 
From off the curb-scones of the world — 
And he smiles with the pale irony 
Of one who holds 

The wisdom of the Talmud stored away 
In his mind's lavender." 
For less than the cost of a dinner one may 
walk with Francis Ledwidge down a leafy 
alley melodious with blackbirds and white 
with thorn in blossom. Surely for such as 
him tliere are green Irish lanes in heaven — 
"If it were not so, I would have told you!" 

Surely a day must dawn when earth's mer- 
chantmen will no longer stupidly sell their 
young poets, both those mute and those 
musical, to that red customer, War. 
"I saw with open eyes 
Singing-birds sweet 
Sold in the shops 
For the people to eat, 
Sold in the shops of 
Stupidity Street. 

The worm in the wheat, 
And in the shops nothing 
For people to eat; 
Nothing tor sale in 
Stupidity Street." 

I have perhaps sufficiently proved my 
249 




POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

claim to inebriety. That first cup, at seven, 
yet fires my veins with thirst. Two character- 
istics of that infantine indulgence persist. For 
one, I still, for the most part, drink alone. 
Few people can share my uncritical abandon 
to sheer joy, I, who 

"When a bird singB me heart-music, 
Don't 'spicion the size of its throat." 

Others rebuke me that I desire new wine 
rather than be content with the old. I grant 
that the world would not be the same place 
without Wordsworth, or Keats, or Browning; 
but surely the older poets, now securely im- 
mortal, remembering tlieirhard entrance into 
fame, would have their lovers welcome new 
singers. I hold there is strength and sparkle 
in the wine that our young poets are pouring; 
and yet so few of my acquaintance share my 
conviction that, when a fresh pennyworth of 
poetry comes to me from the publishers, I 

^ still, as at seven, quaff in solitude. 
In another respect the poetry of to-day ap- 
peals in the same way that poetry first af- 
fected me; it is still to me romance and release. 
The world at present is dark with portent 
and pain. But in the murk how many young 
singers are chanting to an unseen 
Probably these are not great poets, 
250 



1 portent 
ny young 
morning ! ^H 
but they ^H 



POETRY BY THE PENNYWORTH 

are brave and sincere, and often they are 
jocund with an inexplicable confidence. The 
wine of their singing is a magic dawn-draught, 
strengthening one against the darkness of the 
night. There is striking individuality in the 
notes one hears, as if little birds, each alone 
in his dark covert, should, each alone, break 
forth with his own message of hope, each 
severally convinced of sunrise. A penny is 
small price to pay for such high hopefulness, 
and for the faith that, when there is such con- 
fident choiring, there must surely be a dawn. 



A LirrLE EXCXJRSTON IN A ' 
HYMN-BOOK 

IN the protests aroused by a recent attempt 
to remodel old hymns, one finds matter 
for wistful amusement, when one considers 
the nature of the protesters and the nature 
of hymns. Confidently adult, confidently ag- 
nostic, why should we care if some man tam- 
pers with our ancient songs of sanctuary ? Why 
should we not regard as laudably scientific 
and logical this eiFort to renovate the hymn- 
book? But that is just the trouble, for hymns 
are not scientific and logical, and neither are 
we. It may have been decades since we have 
sung or heard a hymn, but we like to think 
that somewhere people are singing the old 
familiar words of our childhood. In pouring 
new terms into old tunes Professor Patton 
has not perceived the vital fact that a hymn 
to be a hymn must be a little obsolete. 

The old hymns are the landmarks of our 
infancy, gracious and glamorous with mem- 
ories. We do not wish old haunted rooms torn 
down to make place for socialist sanitation; 
we do not wish hoary trees clipped of ex- 
crescent but wonder-working imagery. To 
252 



r 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BO 

open the hymn-book and wander there at 
will is to evoke, as nothing else can do, the 
mystic mood of our childhood's faith. We 
have not forgotten the geography of that gen- 
tle land whence all the paths led skyward. 
It was there, rapt by its majesty, we watched 
Imperial Salem rise; there, breathing the in- 
cense of spiced breezes, we sailed to India's 
coral strand; there that our boisterous feet 
grew soft in stepping "by cool Siioam's shady 
rill," and our awed hearts were storm-swept 
by a vision of "cross-crowned Calvary." In 
that haunted domain was drama to quicken 
the pulse: 

"Christian, doat thou see them 

On the holy ground? 
How the troops of Midian 

Prowl and prowl around?" 

In that "sweet and blessed country," made 
mystical with music, heard melodies were 
sweet, but those unheard were sweeter. Can 
any power of poet or artist paint for us such a 
vision of singing hosts as: 

"Ten tiiouaand times ten thousand," 
or: 

"What rush of alleluias 

Fills all the earth and sky! 

What ringing of a thousand harps 

Bespeaks the triumph nigh!" 

253 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK I 

Wliere save in that blessed Bethlehem of 
childhood's possession can we listen with the 
old throbbing Christmas joy when the herald 
angels sing? No, in that fair old land, we will 
allow no one to remove one stone of associa- ■ 
tion builded out of the beauty of old words. 

As a child would be careless of forgotten 
architects, so we are indifferent to the au- 
thorship of hymns. We attach certain names 
to the making of sacred song — Watts and 
Wesley, Heber and Havergal — but rarely 
examine with critical attention the character- 
istics of the groups belonging to each. Holy 
and humble men and women of God have 
composed our praises for us, and in the power 
of their words over our imaginations their 
personalities have been obliterated. An exam- 
ination of the index of authors shows no name 
of literary reputation. Only one great poet 
ever contributed songs to the liturgy of wor- 
ship, and that was David. One stops to pon- 
der the reason, for it is not that our famous 
singers have been without faith. The authors 
of "Saul" and of "In Memoriam" were men 
of fervor as intense as that of Watts, yet 
neither Browning nor Tennyson ever wrote 
a hymn. A comparison of "Saul" with "The 
Son of God goes forth to war" might assist 
toward the explanation. The first expresses 

254 



L 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK 

the religion of an adult, the second that of a 
child. Both types of religious expression are 
equally true and vital; they are merely differ- 
ent. Milton's "Hymn of the Nativity" and 
Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven" are 
great religious poems; they address them- 
selves to adult intelligence, adult emotion, 
adult jesthetic sense. They differ in quality 
from hymns as poets differ from hymn- 
makers in their intense intellectuality. The 
test of a great hymn is that it shall not be 
beyond the intelligence, the emotion, and the 
imagination of a child of ten. This is why we 
resent any retouching of our old canticles that 
destroys their sacred simplicity, their flash- 
ing pictures, their vivid personal God. Our 
brains may have substituted the words "cre- 
ative energy" for "Lord God almighty" ia 
our view of tlie universe, but we allow no one 
to do so in the hymns of our childhood. 

The trouble with remaking ancient song 
to fit present convictions is that such effort 
must necessarily reflect only the personal 
creed, while a hymn must both express and 
address universal emotion and conviction. 
Socialism and pacifism have not yet so leav- 
ened the lump that there is an instant re- 
sponse to their appeal either in a liturgy or 
out of it. The theorists are always the grown- 
2S5 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK 

ups of their generation, the last people to be 
chosen to write hymns for the rest, who both 
in principles and practices have not yet put 
away childish things. Hymns are the voice of 
the heart, and most of us are old-fashioned 
in our hearts, however new-fangled in our 
heads. There are few instances when a modern 
hymn has been able to stir emotions so that 
they react to new words with all the instancy 
with which they throb to those hallowed by 
long usage. Two notable examples are "The 
Battle Hymn of the Republic," and Kipling's 
"Recessional." 

The adequacy of appeal in these two great 
lyrics by no means disproves the inadequacy 
of most attempts to write hymns for one's 
contemporaries, and by no means excuses the 
greater sacrilege of rewriting. We smile at the 
charge of inconsistency in our lusty singing 
of "Jerusalem the Golden," and of 

"O Paradise, O Paradise, 
Who doth not long for rest?" 
— we who frankly doubt a Paradise, or cer- 
tainly doubt whether we'll find rest there. Our 
misty conceptions of a life to come are as alien 
to the plea, 

"Rescue me from fires undying," 
as they are to the thought of 

"Those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see." 

256 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK 

Yet we should resent the removal of "Dies 
irse" from our ritual, no matter how far we 
have removed its theology from our creed- 
Even triple-armored pacifists have no inten- 
tion of depriving the child element in the im- 
agination of its "Onward, Christian soldiers," 
or of "We march, we march to victory." 

To delete from our hymnology all allusions 
to "war, depravity, and woe," as Professor 
Patton desires, is completely to. destroy the 
emotional cogency of our hymns. We readily 
admit that words and theology have become 
antiquated, but we are not inconsistent in 
retaining both, for the incongruity is purely 
superficial. Not the matter but the mood is 
what makes a hymn. Consistency is the con- 
cern of the intellect, but even our intellect 
may approve our spirit's reverence for the 
form of our consecrated songs, for they are 
tested, not by the thoughts they express, but 
by the feelings they arouse. 

Perhaps what makes a hymn precious is our 
homesickness for the days when its meaning 
was as convincing to us as its mood is even 
yet compelling. That is why even the most 
rational of us resent any desecration of those 
years when our faith was that of children. 
There is in "Clayhanger" a telling scene 
where Edwin and Hilda, he alien and con- 
aS7 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK 

demnatory, she alien but sympathetic, are 
attending the Sunday-School centenary and 
listening to the hymns that rock through those 
phalanxed squares of worshipers. 
The multitude is singing: 

"When I survey the wondrouB cross 
On which the Prince of Glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss, 

And pour contempt on all my pride." 

"Hilda shook her head. 

'"What's the matter?' he asked, leaning 
toward her from his barrel. 

"'That's the most splendid religious verse 
ever written!' she cried passionately. 'You 
can say what you like. It's worth while be- 
lieving anything, if you can sing words like 
that and mean them!' 

" She had an air of restrained fury. 

" But fancy her exciting herself over a 
hymn ! " 

Edwin's surprise is analogous to ours when 
we read the protests called forth by the re- 
touching of sacred songs. Fancy our exciting 
ourselves over a hymn! It is because we know 
that we have right, if not reason, on our side. 
No one shall profane the gentle old ways 
where we walked with God once long ago. 
Our reverence for our hymns is our reverence 
for the imperishable child-soul within us. It 
»S8 



] 



AN EXCURSION IN A HYMN-BOOK 

reveals the unconscious conviction that after 
all somewhere there is a kingdom of heaven, 
and that somewhere within sight and sound 
of it lies our childhood's holy land, the king- 
dom of hymns. 



PRINT AND PULPIT 

MUCH criticism now assailing the 
churches would not be made if critics 
would remember some facts of present-day 
history. One reason why people do not go to 
church to hear sermons is that they can get 
them without going. The printing-press has 
superseded the pulpit exactly as the movie has 
superseded the stage. People to-day receive 
their impressions, not through the ear, but 
through the eye. This may be regrettable, but 
it is a fact that should be admitted by any one 
inclined to two conclusions, alike false, that 
men no longer preach and that men no longer 
heed in the old way. Truth has never been a 
commodity to be confined to four stone walls; 
it is but natural that the method of its com- 
munication from a preacher to his people 
should change to fit contemporary condi- 
tions. 

The first requisite of preaching is publicity, 
and the second is hberty of utterance. While 
some of the sincerest sermons of all time have 
been spoken under all the auspices of ortho- 
doxy and convention, truth has always had a 
tendency to slip out of church and synagogue 
260 



PRINT AND PULPIT 

and temple to the closer communion of the 
street-corner and the market-place. The com- 
mon people still hear gladly, but with their 
eyes open to the printed page rather than 
with their ears open to any pulpit. The Church 
is not responsible for the temporary thinning 
of congregations due to this condition. Critics 
who argue the decay of religion should re- 
member that the greatest sermon of history 
was preached on a hillside, because its creed 
and its congregation were too great for any 
synagogue, and that to-day, for the same 
reasoU) some of the noblest teachers of its 
tenets are preaching, not from church plat- 
forms, but in print. 

The growing religious earnestness of mag- 
azine and newspaper articles proves the re- 
ligious receptivity of readers. Idealism is no 
longer furtive, but frank, in many a periodi- 
cal. People to-day want to hear, not about 
doctrine, but about doing; and they are more 
confident of hearing about applied creed — 
practice rather than theology — in maga- 
zines than in churches. Throughout history 
men have gone to church — temple, syna- 
gogue, mosque, or cathedral — for two rea- 
sons : to worship and to hear sermons. To-day, 
for the popular conscience, worship is more 
and more cspr^csed in works and less and 
261 



PRINT AND PULPIT 

less in liturgy, and sermons are listened to in 
proportion as they tell, not what to believe, 
but what to do. 

The transference of the pulpit to the 
printed page presents certain advantages both 
for the preacher and the hearer. The man who 
is inspired to inspire his fellow man has fewer 
restrictions on the freedom of his utterance 
if he speaks on paper than if from a pulpit. 
The democracy of our age resents the hieratic 
as much as the autocratic. The religious man 
resists equally the social severance and the 
separation from practical affairs expected of 
a clergyman; but so long as print is open to 
him he is not denied a pulpit. Perhaps he is 
fired to put his faith to the daily testing of a 
secular profession, to be a consecrated doc- 
tor or lawyer or merchant. If so, he will have 
all the weight of his own applied Christianity 
behind him when he stops to preach — on 
paper. Dr. Cabot, for example, has not needed 
a church for the preaching of much straight 
and simple religion. 

A man devout and devoted may feel greater 
freedom in a periodical than in a pulpit. He 
is not restricted by loyalty to a denomina- 
tional creed nor to a congregation whose sal- 
aried servant he is. It is inspiring to be able 
to be a preacher without having to cease to be 
262 



PRINT AND PULPIT 

a man with men, and without having to cling 
to a creed a dozen times outgrown, To-da/ 
both premiers and presidents may preach 
without ceasing to guide nations, and with 
only self-imposed adherence to Welsh Meth- 
odism or Scotch Presbyterianism. Nor can a 
live man be blamed that he should prefer the 
wider audience that print offers him. It is not 
the fault of the Church, but of the cable and 
the telegraph and the press, that a preacher 
to-day may have all the world for his congre- 
gation. 

The Church as a human institution has 
never decayed, and never will decay, but re- 
ligion is so vital an energy that it is always 
finding new ways to reach people. An ob- 
server should not be dismayed by any of 
these manifestations, but should in charity 
remember that both preacher and people are 
but human. The hesitant nature of human 
faith makes the advantages of the published 
over the spoken sermon as great for the lis- 
tener as for the preacher. The listener in his 
turn is not restricted to any one creed or to 
any church membership. He may shape and 
study and apply his convictions without 
proclaiming them. Many a man may, often 
unconsciously, heed the printed word who 
would not have the temerity to enter a church, 
263 



PRINT AND PULPIT 

where his fellow members may observe his 
reactions. As a mere reader of sermons he is 
committed to no creed or communion. Both 
his faith and his practice remain entirely 
private. Such secrecy, as of Nicodemus, may 
perhaps be neither courageous nor creditable, 
but it is a human tendency to be acknowl- 
edged. The approach to faith is often shy, but 
Nicodemus was received. 

For both preacher and listener the printed 
sermon has the advantage of entire personal 
liberty. AppHcation of creed to conduct is 
for each a matter of his own conscience. A 
preacher may write his teaching without 
practicing it; a listener may read without fol- 
lowing. The utterance is as uncircumscribed 
as were the words cried to the wind two thou- 
sand years ago in Palestine; by virtue of the 
printed pulpit to-day a man may repeat those 
words or a man may listen to them, and then, 
exactly as on the lakeside or the mountain 
path long ago, he may follow the word or 
forego it. 




GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

AMONG the Christmas commodities 
urged upon the purchasing pubUc by 
bookseilers' catalogues and counters, there is 
one that becomes each year more promi- 
nent, namely, that literary anomaly known 
as the "gift-book." I wonder how other 
volumes, more obscure, regard the gift-book. 
Do they covet his bad eminence, beholding 
his jeweled dress, luxurious trappings, and 
coffined ease? Or do they, on the contrary, 
rather hug the dustiest corner of the shelf, 
preferring it to the splendor of the sarcoph- 
agus, and shuddering before the terrible se- 
cret of his exalted position? 

How quickly the titles of the favored few 
come to one's finger-ends as one begins to 
count! "The Autocrat of the Breakfast- 
Table," "Portuguese Sonnets," "The Eve of 
Saint Agnes," "Sesame and Lilies," "The 
Rubaiyat." What a curious concourse the 
authors would make if they were brought 
forth in a company as often as are their books. 
Matter so diverse, yet so incessantly com- 
bined, would seem suggestive of strange psy- 
chological phenomena to be argued from the 
Z65 





GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

characteristics of gift-books, but investiga- 
tion along this line would prove most mis- 
leading. In a study of the nature of the gift- 
bookj you must avoid all consideration of its 
contents. Gift-books are chosen either from 
the shelf of the classics or from that of the 
newest comers, but in one respect the two are 
always alike: they are never books market- 
able on their own merits; to be.sold they must 
be lifted to the dignity of becoming presents. 
The classic group is generally floated on its 
classicism, plus much majesty 'of binding and 
of boxing; only rarely is it judged to need il- 
lustration; the contemporary group, on the 
other hand, depends for its appeal entirely 
on illustration; it trails over the counter a pro- 
cession of pictures that blinds the purchaser 
to the width of margins and the paucity of 
reading matter. The difference between the 
gift-book which is a classic and the gift-book 
which is a contemporary is that one opens the 
latter; one never opens the former. 

The two types become instantly recog- 
nizable as one remembers the last Christmas, 
and anticipates the next. Santa Claus's pack 
always brings much matter for solid reflec- 
tion, however delicately our parcels be done 
up in tissue paper and bright ribbon. One 
always receives one's quota of gift-books. I 
266 



GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

Wonder what becomes of all the "Portuguese 
Sonnets" in the world. 

In our Christinas collection the gift-book 
must be classified in the heap labeled the 
"Present Perfunctory." It fulfills the two con- 
ditions of its classification, it is nakedly use- 
less and ornate. Those two adjectives rep- 
resent the basic characteristics of all the 
presents urged by all the holiday advertisers. 
The gift-book is but another recourse of the 
giver who wishes to give but not to think. 
Does a real book-buyer ever buy a gift-book 
— for himself or for anybody else? 

The real book-buyer, however, need indulge 
no contempt for the purchaser of gift-books, 
who trustingly and uncritically allows the 
bookseller to choose his Christmas presents 
for him. The manner of the selection marks 
the whole affair from beginning to end as po- 
litely impersonal. In the publisher's initial 
choice he never intrudes the slightest per- 
sonal bias in his selection from established 
reputations, from the great Have-Beens, the 
famous Once-Were-Reads. The names of the 
gift-books never vary from Christmas to 
Christmas. In the publishing, purchasing, 
giving, and receiving of a gift-book, there is 
a scrupulous avoidance of any suggestion of 
individual preference. For this fact one should 
267 




GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

be profoundly grateful, for the gift-bearing 
season is rendered innocuous exactly in pro- 
portion to Its number of impersonal presents. 
In our grown-up Kris-Kringling there still 
lingers a good deal of the Gift Critical — sur- 
vival of the switch for the bad child, the 
sweetmeat for the good. Now the less evi- 
dence of personal reflection in a present, the 
safer. The gift-book fills a need, it is a polite- 
ness that penetrates no man's privacy; an 
expression of good-will left on the doorstep, 
not thrust into the heart. 

Upon my shelves I can find no sharper con- 
trast than that between the gift-book and the 
book-gift, the latter being a volume selected 
because it represents the giver's taste, or else 
what he thinks is my taste, or, still worse, 
what he thinks ought to be my taste if it isn't. 
All three revelations are perilous. "Tell me 
what you eat, and I will tell you what you 
are," declare our paternal sellers of cereals. 
"Tell me what you read, and I will tell you 
what you are," is a process even more heart- 
eearching. 

There is nothing more harmlessly imper- 
sonal than the gift-book; there is nothing 
more audaciously personal than the book as 
gift. The latter represents individual discov- 



I 

I 

I 



I 



d 



GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

ery, and the Impulse to share the delight with 
a friend; yet, should the friend fail to share, 
what a gulf suddenly yawns between the 
giver and the recipient of some book that in 
an instant becomes an accusation of uncon- 
geniality! You can forgive a person who gives 
you an unbecoming tie, you can condone 
color blunders, but you cannot forgive a 
friend who gives you a book unbecoming to 
your form of thought, you cannot forgive 
character-blindness. And should the book- 
gift go a step farther, should you have reason 
to suspect it of the donor's effort at pros- 
elytism, of an intention to convert you to 
opinions, human or literary, that you are 
not ready to accept, then the poor little book- 
gift becomes that most dangerous kind of 
Christmas remembrance, the Gift Reforma- 
tive, the switch in the Christmas stocking. 
In giving or receiving, not a gift-book, but 
a book-gift, a volume chosen by friend for 
friend, much Is risked, but perhaps with 
reason. There are books to which a friend has 
introduced me which have relinked our hearts 
together with chains of gold and gladness, or, 
by another figure, have been gates into a do- 
main of delight where three may wander in a 
joyous privacy of possession, my friend and 
I, and the author to whom he introduced me. 
269 




GIFT-BOOKS AND BOOK-GIFTS 

Still the principle is unaltered that the 
^ving of books is a perilous matter. Those 
who keep the safe side will confine themselves 
to the giving, not of book-gifts, but of gift- 
books, that wise provision of Providence and 
the publisher. Both these agencies are aware 
of two facts for the foolhardy — that read- 
ing is of all concerns most personal, and that 
gift-giving should be of all courtesies most 
impersonal: so both supply the need by put- 
ting into our hands the gift-book. The char- 
acteristic that best fits a book to be a gift is 
the characteristic that most unfits it to be a 
book. 1 reveal the secret of the sarcophagus 
referred to at the beginning: the gift-book 
is a book that is never read! That is why its 
fellow volumes may well shudder at its posi- 
tion, however seeming-splendid; for while it is 
safe and stupid to give a gift-book, safer and 
stupider to receive one, how much worse to 
beonel 



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